National Hispanic Heritage Month: Aida de Acosta

Aviation trailblazer Aida de Acosta (1881-1962) was born in Long Beach, New Jersey. She was the daughter of Ricardo de Acosta, a steamship company executive of Cuban descent. In June 1903 Acosta became the first woman to fly a motorized aircraft on her own. While she was visiting Paris, renowned Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont taught her how to fly a dirigible. After only three lessons, he allowed Acosta to take to the skies on her own. Acosta subsequently flew the dirigible by herself over Paris. Santos-Dumont followed her on the ground below via bicycle, shouting instructions to her as she continued to pilot the dirigible. Acosta’s pioneering solo trip took place six months before the Wright Brothers made history with their first heavier-than-air human flight.

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