French destinies North Pas-de-Calais / Hauts de France

She was the first woman to obtain an airplane pilot's license: Baroness Deroche.

Flying: an ambition as old as mankind, the realization of which seems to be a French specialty since it was the French who were the first to fly in the first hot air balloon flight. Clément Ader invented the plane. And the first female aviator in history is French: she is the Baroness Deroche and discover here her destiny.


Baroness... Because she decided so

In fact, she gave herself the title of Baroness, but it doesn't shock the men who discover themselves before her. She is so elegant. She has so many aristocratic manners that made the charm of a "beautiful time" that was so magical before crashing into the First World War. Born in 1882, the daughter of a modest leather worker in the Marais district of Paris, she rose to prominence through her talent and brilliant mind. Practicing many sports, she became very interested in two amazing novelties: the motorcycle and the car. She did not hesitate to take rides on these machines, shocking passers-by who were not used to seeing a woman driving a car herself. 

Elisa Deroche / Bibilothèque du Congrès des Etats-Unis d'Amérique. 

Elisa Deroche / Library of Congress of the United States of America. 


First female aviator in history. 

On March 8, 1910, in Mourmelon, she obtained the first airplane pilot's license ever awarded to a woman. Charles Voisin, an aircraft manufacturer, agreed to give her flying lessons when almost all the men she had asked laughed in her face. A woman! A pilot! Exactly what Elisa de la Roche cannot stand. For her, a woman is the equal of a man. With her license in her pocket, she flew in air shows like the others. We see her flying in Berlin, Rouen, Reims, St Petersburg where Tsar Nicolas II himself congratulates her. In 1909, she reached 3700 meters of altitude. An incredible feat. 


Her last flight

La baronne Deroche première aviatrice de l'histoire dans son avion en 1907 / Bibliothèque du Congrès des Etats Unis d'Amérique
Baroness Deroche in her plane in 1907 / United States Library of Congress

July 18, 1919. Le Crotoy. The wind rises and makes the egret of her hat quiver as the Baroness de la Roche enters the runway. In the distance, the plane is waiting. Barrault, the aviator, has invited her to come up with him to test a new plane, the caudron. She will be co-pilot. Already the first female airplane pilot, she now wants to become a fighter pilot. Today, it is a test flight. A learning flight too. The baroness climbs into the plane. 

Here is the plane coming back. It is not stable. It nosedives. It crashes. 

An activist for the equality of the sexes, for women's right to vote, passionate about novelties, on that day, the Baroness de la Roche began a long journey towards infinity. 

Her body rests in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. 

La Baronne Deroche dans son appareil en 1907 in : La Revue aérienne / directeur Emile Mousset Auteur : Ligue nationale aérienne, Paris.

The Baroness Deroche in her aircraft in 1907 in: La Revue aérienne / director Emile Mousset Author: Ligue nationale aérienne, Paris.

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme is "monsieur de France" the author of this site.