It’s an understatement to say that this Wisconsin-born mega-renaissance woman broke the mold of how women in the early 20th century were expected to conduct themselves on both a personal and professional level. In short, Bessica Raiche wore pants (quelle horreur!), drove a car, shot guns and practiced medicine, first as a dentist and then as one of the first female specialists in obstetrics and gynecology in the United States. To top it off, she was also an accomplished linguist, artist and musician.
Oh, and we should probably mention that on Oct. 13, 1910, Raiche became the first American woman to make a solo flight in an aircraft. (Blanche Stuart Scott, the first woman to drive a car from coast to coast, accomplished a similar feat just a month prior, although that flight was thought to be non-intentional and was not accredited by the Aeronautical Society of America.)
And get this: Raiche’s homemade, Wright Brothers-inspired aircraft was constructed in the living room of her Mineola, N.Y., home using just silk, piano wire and bamboo (hubbie Francois Raiche helped with the DIY design-build process). Raiche’s aviation career was short-lived, as she moved to Southern California to focus on her career in medicine, later becoming president of the Orange County Medical Association.