Mademoiselle Marvingt
Photo From Collection of Jean-Pierre Lauwers

by David Lam
     She was born on February 20, 1875 in Aurillac France. She was a world class athlete, winning numerous prizes in swimming, fencing, shooting, ski-jumping, skating, bobsled. She dominated the 1908-1910 seasons at Chamonix, France, where she won more than 20 first place awards. She was a world class mountain climber and was the first woman to climb most of the peaks of the French and Swiss Alps between the years 1903-1910. The French Academy of Sports gave her a medal in March, 1910, "for all sports" (It was the only one they ever gave for more than one sport).
1901 - first balloon flight
1907 - July 19, First balloon flight as pilot
1908 - Not being allowed to participate in the tour de France, (it was a man's sport, after all), she nevertheless rode the course after the race, and completed it, which only a few more than 30 of the more than 100 male starters had done.
1909 - September, First flight in balloon alone
1909 - September, First fixed wing flight, with Roger Sommer
1909, Oct. 26, First female pilot to fly a balloon across the North Sea and the English Channel from Europe to England.
1909-1910 - Won several ballooning prizes.
1910, - Studied fixed wing aviation with Hubert Latham, in the Antoinette airplane-- at least one journal credited her with being the first woman to solo a monoplane.
1910 - June, Got her Balloon pilot's license from the Aero Club of France (#145)
1910 - Proposed the development of airplane ambulances to the French Government
1910 - Nov. 8, Became the third woman in the world licensed as a pilot (#281)
1911 - Won the Coupe Femina in Turin

Mademoiselle Marvingt
Fétes d'Aviation, NANCY-JARVILLE, 7 et 8 1912
16. - Mademoiselle Marvingt sur monoplan Deperdussin
Collection of Jean-Pierre Lauwers
Mademoiselle Marvingt

Marie Marvingt prend le départ a Béthany en 1912 sur Deperdussin
Photo Courtesy of David Lam
  1912 - Actually ordered an airplane ambulance from the Deperdussin company  

Mrs. Maurice Hewlett
Mlle Marvingt, 1913
Photo from FLYING, June 1913
Collection of David Lam
At the Left is Mlle. Marvingt, one of the women who flew in the first Femina Cup in France, November 1910. Frl. Galantschikoff, right, is all dressed up for sojourn in the clouds; In the photo below, costumed apparently for an arctic expedition, is Hilda Hewlett.
(Photos from FLYING, June 1913)
Collection of David Lam

Mademoiselle Marvingt
Dessin de 1914 du regretté Friante représetant Marie MARVINGT,
Pionnière de l'air et des ailes qui sauvent.
Photo Courtesy of David Lam
  1914 - Appeared in a painting by Friant showing her air ambulance (see picture above from an old postcard)
1914 - Enlisted in the French Army and served on the front lines as a male infantryman. WWI, served as red cross nurse
1915 - Served as volunteer pilot flying bomber missions over Germany. Worked as war correspondent with French Forces in North Africa between the wars. Devoted the remainder of her long life to the concept of aeromedical evacuation, giving more than 6,000 conferences and seminars on the subject on at least four continents. Co-Founder of the French organisation Les Amies De L'Aviation Sanitaire (Friends of Medical Aviation). One of the leaders behind the success of the First International Congress on Medical Aviation, 1929 - Participated in too many international meetings to list here. Received award from the Federation National d'Aeronautique at the Sorbonne, for her work in aviation medicine-- 30 Jan 1955.
Film Director, author and actress-- 2 films 1934-1935
Established civil air ambulance service in Morocco-- Given Medal de la Paix of Morocco.
Invented the metal ski.
At the age of 80, flew in a US jet .
1955 - At the age of 80, learned to fly a jet helicopter.

by Marie Marvingt
Collier's Magazine, 30 September 1911
Transcribed by David Lam, 1-9-04
     Though only a novice in aviation, I have already many recollections of aerial impressions and emotions. But it is difficult to compare them with another. One evening, when the weather was very calm, at the time when I was Latham's pupil at Mourmelon, I was initiated into the rolling and pitching of an aeroplane at one and the same time. I had my first experience of a current. On alighting, Latham told me that he had never before been shaken in so violent a fashion, We had the impression of being hurled upon an invisible rock. Another day, with poor Wachter, when flying at a height of 30 meters, we narrowly escaped a collision with a biplane, just grazing it. I had the feeling that a catastrophe was imminent, At a few meters distance from us the biplane turned upside down, without its pilots sustaining any injury, while we pursued our flight. Having been through numerous incidents when flying with my instructors, I was much less surprised when I experienced them while on board alone.
     On October 1, 1910, in the evening, I made one of my finest flights. I flew alone for the first time in a wind that was fairly strong, with violent currents. On the morning that I won my pilot's certificate, during the second test, a biplane flew off 60 meters from me. I left the course in order to avoid its wake and rose to a height of 80 meters. But for nearly the whole circuit of the course I failed to distinguish it. I called to mind, during those moments, the catastrophe that befell Dickson Thomas. My companions told me afterwards that we were at one moment within 20 meters of one another. With the new sloping wing, this inconvenience will no longer exist.
     But I find that I am speaking to you of several flights without having yet notified you which was the most stirring. It was beyond all dispute the first that I made alone in my Antoinette, on the 4th of September 1910. For a long time past I had had complete control of the machine with my last teacher, Laffont. I had as much confidence as a learner can have. But, in spite of that, I felt a very unusual and strange sensation. There was a little wind, and I at once rose to a height of 60 meters. The monoplane climbed far better than the one I usually rode in. The first turn caused me real uneasiness, which, at the second, was turned into joy unalloyed. I was rather nervous about coming to earth, but my landing was quite normal. It was done: I had flown.
     This new sport is comparable to no other. It is, in my opinion, one of the most intoxicating forms of sport, and will, I am sure, become one of the most popular. Many of us will perish before then, but that prospect will not dismay the braver spirits. In devoting themselves to the new cause, those who have the true aviator's soul will find in their struggle with the atmosphere a rich compensation for the risks they face.
     It is so delicious to fly like a bird! "

Library of Congress Collection, 1-28-07

by Dr. David M. Lam, M.D., M.P.H.
ABSTRACT: The development of air ambulances was one of the most important advances in military medicine in the 20th Century. It is often forgotten today how difficult a task it was to achieve military, govenmental, popular, and medical support in the early years of the century for this then-heretical concept. While many individuals were involved in this development, one of the most influential and effective of its proponents was Mademoiselle Marie Marvingt, of France. One of the foremost sportswomen of her day, she was a free balloon pilot, a surgical nurse, and the third woman in the world to receive her fixed wing pilot's license. In the area of air evacuation, she was a true visionary, ordering the construction of an air ambulance in 1912, and devoting the remainder of her long life to gaining its full acceptance in the medical armamentarium. Unlike many visionaries, she lived to see the full adoption of her proposals; her efforts should forever be remembered whenever an air ambulance is seen.
     This article was published in Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, 2003; 74 (8) 863-868 August 2003, the monthly journal of the Aerospace Medical Association (ASMA). Copies of the complete article may be obtained from the Ingenta website. You may go directly to the entry by clicking on:
Marie Marvingt
     From that page you can read a complete summary of the article and can order a reprint.

Marvingt Stamp
     This is a picture of the stamp of Marie Marvingt which the French postal service is issuing on 29 June 2004. It will cost €5 each (about $6.00 US), so I suspect they will not be very common. At least it will be in the regular air mail series, and thus will be available for some years, rather than only for a short period as are most French Commemorative stamps.
     There will be an exhibition on Marie in Tomblaine, a town near Nancy, on 29 June--- the date of first day of issue of the new French air mail stamp in her honor.
     Just for information, the French Aviation and Space Medicine Society (SOFRAMAS) and the US Aerospace Medical Association have created an annual award in honor of Marie Marvingt. The award is to be given for “excellence and innovation in aerospace medicine”, and was first awarded in May 2005
Image & text courtesy of Dave Lam, 8-19-05

women in aviation international
via email from David Lam, 2-20-07
     Marie Marvingt was inducted into the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame on 17 Feb 2007.

       Marie Marvingt died on December 14, 1963, the most decorated woman in the history of France. She was awarded more than 34 medals and decorations.
     It is unfortunate that she is so unknown. She was a fantastic lady, and contributed greatly to the history of aviation and to the development of the airplane ambulance.
Personal Communication from David Lam
Editor's Note:
If you have any information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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