AKA Miss Spencer-Kavanagh, Elsa Spencer, Viola Fleet,
Viola Spencer-Kavanagh, Viola Spencer, and Viola Kavanagh
Courtesy of Dave Lam, 8-17-04
Edit Maude Cook
Edit Maude Cook
1287. - Monoplan de Miss Spencer Kavanagh - blériot Ai, Type i raversee de la Manche
     Envergure des ailes 8 m, 60, longeur 7 m 80. Moseur Anzani 3 cylindres à aílettes force 25 HP,
actionnant une hélice en bois. Surface portante 14 m carrés. Pois de l'appareil víde 200 kgr., pouvant
transporter 120 kgr de poies utile.                                     J. H.

Span of the wings 8 m, 60, length 7 m 80. Moseur Anzani 3 cylinders with aílettes force 25 HP,
actuating a wooden propeller. Airfoil 14 m square. Weight of the apparatus víde 200 kgr., being
able to transport 120 kgr of useful. weight.                                      J.H.

Collection of Dave Lam, 2-11-05

via email from Louise Argent, 8-11-04
     Wondering whether anyone out there has any information on my 3 x great aunt Edith Maud COOK - the first British woman to fly solo.
     She flew under the name Miss Spencer-Kavanagh. She was also a professional parachute jumper using the name Viola Spencer. She was killed in a balloon accident in 1910.
     Unfortunately I do not have a photo of Edith Maud Cook (if anyone out there has one, I would love to see it) but I will put together all the information I have about her and will e-mail this to you by the end of the week. It isn't much I'm afraid but I hope it will be a suitable addition.
      The Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon, England has been most helpful and sent me the little information they have. They suggested I contact The Women's Library at The London Metropolitan University. I will do this within the next week or so and will let you know of the outcome.
     Certainly the story of one of my 2 x great grandfather's sisters being a professional parachute jumper using the name "Miss Spencer" was a legend throughout my father's maternal family. We knew Edith Maud Cook had been killed whilst attempting a parachute jump from a balloon. However the fact that she had been the first British woman to fly solo had been 'forgotten' in the family. It was the information on the "Ladies First" website (taken from the Guinness Book of Aviation - I believe) that allowed me to identify which of my 2 x great grandfather's sisters was the parachute jumper and discover that she had been an early aviator. I understand she was small in stature (as was her niece, my great grandmother); typical of the early COOK women in my family.
     No one in the family knows why Edith Maud Cook used the name "Miss Viola Spencer" for her parachute jumping, or "Miss Spencer-Kavanagh" for her flying. They are not known family names. However we wondered whether she was associated with the British balloonist Stanley Spencer - hence the Spencer.
     As promised I will put together all the information I have and will be in touch later in the week.
     Thank you so much for your help and for taking an interest in my 3 x great aunt.
Kind regards,
Louise Argent.
Bristol, England
Editor's Note: If you can help Louise in her search for more information, you can contact her via my email address which is found on the homepage of the site.

Edit Maude Cook
Edith Maude Cook
Collection of Dave Lam, 2-11-05
via email from Dave Lam, 8-16-04
     Actually she first studied piloting at the Bleriot School at Pau, then moved to the Graham-White School when he opened at Pau. She apparently never earned a license, but was probably the first English woman to solo, doing so in early 1910.
     She did not die "in a balloon accident", as you report. The incident was on 9 July 1910, and she died on the 14th, but there was nothing wrong with the balloon. She was attempting to parachute out, and she had a parachute failure.

via email from Colin Durrant, 6-10-07
Dear Mr Cooper,
     I have been looking for information on Edith Cook and came upon the subjecton the web.You may be aware that a blue plaque has been recently unveiled on a house in Ipswich,Suffolk(my location).When it was announced that a plaque was to be made in her honour i was rather suprised as i had believed that Hilda Hewlett was the first femail British pilot.This was compounded by the lack of any mention of Edith in any publication.I am however very pleased that maybe at last she will receive the recognition that she deserves.Edith was born in Ipswich in 1879 and lived at the family bakers shop in Fore st,Ipswich.I would love to know her history and how she moved from the very rural life in Suffolk to such a different lifestile.I am a member of a group setting up a display centre devoted to Suffolks aviation heritage and hope the we can slot in the story of Edith Cook.Would be pleased to hear from you if you are able tell me anymore.
Many thanks
Colin Durrant.

     If you search for "Edith Maud Cook", using the Google search engine, (6-11-07), you will find about 26 links, several of which appear to be relevant..
     This page on the RAF Museum website offers the following description of the career of Edith Maud Cook.
"The first woman pilot in the United Kingdom, Miss Edith Maud Cook, learns to fly in Blériot monoplanes at the Grahame White School at Pau in France. She uses the pseudonym 'Miss Spencer Kavanagh' and, using the name 'Viola Spenser', is also a well known parachute-jumper. She is killed in July 1910 during a display from a captive balloon at Coventry."
     You can access the site by clicking on the title above.
Edith Maud Cook
     This page on the "Ladies First" website repeats the story of Miss Cook which is found on the RAF Museum website cited above. You can access the site by clicking on the title above.

       Edith Maud Cook died when her parachute failed as she was jumping from a balloon. The incident was on 9 July 1910, and she died on the 14th.
Personal communication from Dave Lam, 8-16-04.

Edit Maude Cook
Memorial Plaque
Photo by John Cooper, 9-12-07

Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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