Hilda Hewlett: Irrespressible and Remarkable

Hilda Hewlett

Exactly 108 years ago, on August 29th, 1911, 53 years old Hilda Hewlett became the first British woman and only the seventh woman worldwide to acquire a pilot’s license.

Hilda was born in Vauxhall, London in February 1864. She was married and had two children. Her husband wasn’t a fan of his wives involvement in aviation. He once said to her that “Women will never be as successful in aviation as men. They have not the right kind of nerve.” They later separated in 1914.

During her education, she specialized in woodwork, metalwork, and needlework; three skills that would later serve her well in her aviation engineering career. After studying aeronautics at an airfield in France in 1909, she traveled back to the United Kingdom, where she opened the first flight school in the entire country together with a business partner. Thirteen pupils graduated from the school in the year and a half it operated and, with a remarkable safety record for the time, there were no accidents.

Then, on August 29th, 1911, Hilda became the first woman in the UK to earn a pilot’s license from the Royal Aero Club after completing the test in her Farman III biplane.

She also taught her son to fly who went on to have a distinguished military aviation career in both the UK and New Zealand, making him the first military pilot taught to fly by his mother.

Her story goes on. Hilda and her business partner, Gustav Blondeau, also started an aircraft manufacturing business which produced more than 800 airplanes and employed up to 700 people. The company was called Hewlett & Blondeau, and one of the planes they built under license was the Avro 508.

Hilda Hewlett died on August 21st, 1943, in New Zealand. Her grandson’s wife has carried out exhaustive research into the life of Hilda Hewlett and recently published the results of this work. It’s called “Old Bird. The Irrepressible Mrs. Hewlett”.

Hilda Hewlett was an impressive and remarkable woman. She became the first woman in the UK to receive a pilot’s license. She taught her son how to fly. She opened a flight school, and she ran an aircraft manufacturing business. And all before the year of 1940.


Have a good day or night, and many happy landings.
Marc

Text Sources:
Wikipedia, Timeline Of Women In Aviation, 29.08.2019
Wikipedia, Hilda Hewlett, 29.08.2019
Wikipedia, Hewlett & Blondeau, 29.08.2019
Lehmanns.de, 29.08.2019

Image Sources:
Picture of Hilda Hewlett, HistoricWings, 29.08.2019
Picture of the Farman III Biplane, USC Digital Library, 29.08.2019
Picture of the Avro 504, Andrew Fogg on Flickr, 29.08.2019

24 Likes

What a fascinating piece of aviation history, going to enjoy having a further read later

I go through Vauxhall most days for work and was never aware of the link

Thanks for sharing this!

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What a great story in aviation history!

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There are truly some remarkable people in aviation history and she was one of them

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