The young French actress Elise Deroche, born on 22 August 1886 in Paris, changed her name to Baroness Raymonde de Laroche, which she considered brighter and more suitable for her theatre career. The young woman was very adventurous and undertook hot air balloon flights and showed a great interest in aviation.
It was Charles Voisin, a pilot and France's first aircraft manufacturer, who suggested that she take flying lessons. On 22 October 1909, she succeeded in flying 300 metres in Châlons. The next day, she covered 6 kilometres.
From then on, she abandoned the theatre for aviation and on 17 March 1910, she obtained her first woman pilot's licence. That same year, while participating in the Prix des Dames in Reims, her plane crashed on the field. She was rescued with multiple fractures.
She took to the air again at the end of her convalescence and took part in numerous meetings. In 1918, she broke the women's records for altitude (4,800 metres) and distance (323 kilometres).
She was killed during a test flight at Le Crotoy on 18 July 1919.
● Xavier Massé: Des femmes dans l'aéronautique, Editions NEl, 2009, 238p.