1910: A Transportation Pacesetter Takes Center Stage at an “Aerial Tea” in London

March 3, 1910

Transportation pioneer Dorothy Levitt was one of the featured speakers at a mid-afternoon meeting of the English Women’s Aerial League at the renowned Criterion Restaurant in London, England. The league had been established the previous year and was focused on promoting both advances in aircraft technology and the involvement of women in aviation. The 28-year-old Levitt, who had joined the league in January, agreed to speak to attendees at the March 3 “aerial tea” about her experiences a few months earlier learning how to fly a plane at the Hubert Latham School of Aviation in France. 

Levitt’s airborne experience, while earning her both membership in the league and an invitation to address the group, was only a part of her considerable transportation achievements. Levitt was an accomplished horse rider, for starters, but she also distinguished herself through her embrace of more modern transportation modes. She became one of the first women to drive an automobile and was also among the first women to race those vehicles in competitions.  

Her numerous automobile records included one established in 1905 for the “longest drive achieved by a lady driver.” With both an official observer and her pet Pomerainian dog Dodo as her passengers, Levitt made a two-day round trip between London and Liverpool in a De Dion-Bouton motor vehicle. She also became a highly regarded authority on automobile maintenance, even authoring a popular book entitled The Woman and the Car: A Chatty Little Hand Book for Women Who Motor or Want to Motor

Levitt’s transportation-oriented enthusiasms and expertise likewise extended to powered vessels. In 1903, for example, she set the world’s first water speed record when she attained 19.3 miles (31.1 kilometers) per hour in a Napier speedboat.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on Dorothy Levitt, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Levitt

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