Bland, Lillian (1878–1971)

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Bland, Lillian (1878–1971)

British aviator and first woman in the British Isles, possibly in the world, to design, build, and fly her own plane. Born in Kent, England, in 1878; died in 1971.

Lillian Bland established a reputation as a press photographer and sportswriter before undertaking the construction of a bi-plane glider. Spurred on by the achievements of the Wright brothers, she successfully flew her plane, the Mayfly, in 1910, after modifying it with the addition of an engine. Bland was reportedly diverted from her aviation career by her father's offer of a car, which developed into a position running a motor agency. She subsequently married and took up residence in Vancouver. At age 93, Bland is said to have told the Belfast Telegraph that the only excitement left to her was gambling.