Marie Marvingt

Taking to the skies

Marie Marvingt and the early days of aviation are nearly inseparable. She took to the air at a time when 87% of everyone who went up -- to put it brutally -- came down dead.

Her flying career was studded with close calls, adventure, and "firsts."  The third woman in the world to obtain a pilot's license, she also set the first women's records in aviation. She went on to become the first woman bomber pilot.

Before flying the fragile contraptions known as flying bicycles, she piloted balloons. She was the first person, woman or man, to successfully (i.e., not die in the process) cross the North Sea in a balloon from France to England.