Heath, Sophie (1896–1939)

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Heath, Sophie (1896–1939)

Irish aviator. Name variations: Mary Peirce; Sophie Peirce; Sophie C. Elliott-Lynn or Sophie C. Elliott Lynn (wrongly seen as Elliot-Lynn and Eliott-Lynn); Lady Sophie Heath or Lady Mary Heath; Sophie Williams. Born Mary Sophie Catherine Teresa Peirce Evans, Nov 10, 1896, at Knockaderry House, near Newcastlewest, Co. Limerick, Ireland; died from shock of injuries after falling from the steps of a public bus, May 1939 (other sources cite Nov 27, 1939); studied at Dublin's University College, 1920–21, and University of Aberdeen; m. Major William Davies Elliott-Lynn, 1919 (died 1927); Sir James Heath, Oct 12, 1927 (div. 1932); George Anthony Reginald Williams (aviator), 1932 (div. 1936).

Aviation pioneer who was the 1st woman to earn a B aviator's license, the 1st woman to loop-the-loop and the 1st woman to make a parachute jump from 15,000 ft, served as vice president of Women's Amateur Athletic Association (1922); as an International Athletics Federation representative, presented arguments to International Olympic Council in Prague (1926) about why women should be allowed to compete in Olympics (subsequently, committee opened 3 events to women in 1928 games); influenced International Commission for Air Navigation's (ICAN) decision to permit women to become commercial pilots after successfully flying newspapers to Paris during British general strike (May 1926); broke an aviation height record at 19,000 feet (Oct 1927); flew from Pretoria, South Africa, to London in her plane, the Avian (Feb 25-May 17, 1928); worked as a KLM pilot (1929–33); was 1st woman instructor at Dublin's Kildonan Aerodrome, which she later purchased. Writings include East African Nights and Other Verses (1925) and Athletics for Women and Girls-How to Be an Athlete and Why (1925), 1st book of its kind.

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Heath, Sophie (1896–1939)

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