AKA Baroness de Laroche &
Elise Raymonde Deroche
Baronne de la Roche
Baronne de la Roche
Photo Courtesy of Hargrave's The Pioneers

Baronne de la Roche
Baronne de la Roche
The Baronne de Laroche, whose unfortunated accident in her Voisin
somewhat marred last Friday's doings at the Rheims Meeting.
Latest accounts report the Baroness as out of danger.
Image from Dave Lam
Legend from Flight/global archive, July 16, 1910

by David Lam
     The first woman to win her fixed wing pilot's license was the self-styled Baroness de la Roche, (real name Elise Raymonde Deroche).
     She is described in contemporary reports as a "young and pretty" comedienne (which probably means she was an actress, in the jargon of the time, though she is also described as a "lyrical artist", or singer). Previously a balloonist, She won license # 36 of the International Aeronautics Federation (F.A.I.) on 8 March 1910, at the age of 24.
     She participated in the aviation meetings at Heliopolis, Budapest, Rouen, and Saint Petersburg (at the latter of which the Tsar himself praised her for her bravery and audacity.
Baronne de la Roche Crash
The Deroche crash was in fact her first big one,
at Reims in July 1910

Photo and Text Courtesy of David Lam
       On 8 July 1910 she competed for the Women's prize at Reims in a Voisin biplane, and suffered a crash from altitude. After nearly dying following this crash, she regained her health and interest in flying, and returned to the air.
     Soon thereafter, she set new women's records, including distance (323 km) and altitude (4500 m). She was a temporary holder of the Coupe Femina in 1913, with a flight on 25 November of 323 km, ending only through mechanical trouble. World War I put an end to her career only temporarily.
     Soon after the end of the war, she returned again to the air, and in 1919 at Crotoy (flying a Caudron), she suffered another crash, this time a fatal one

by Baroness de Laroche
from Colliers Magazine
30 September 1911
Transcribed by Dave Lam, 1-9-04
     After practicing at Moumelon, and breaking my arm in a fall, I went to Helipolis, where I obtained by pilot's certificate. I had hardly recovered from my accident, but I felt no apprehension on mounting my machine one more. What can I tell you of this first meeting, except that as soon as we took the air we were all seized by treacherous currents which flopped us about at the wind's pleasure, although the atmosphere seemed perfectly calm. From there I went to Saint Petersburg.
     The aviation ground was small. None of us was willing to fly, and yet we all decided to do so. On the occasion of one of my flights I mounted to a height of 150 meters, being enveloped by the smoke from the factory chimneys which surrounded the ground. I flew over houses, then above forests, and turned three times. In order to reach the ground at the end of the fourth turn I made a little curve, tacked, and stopped my motor at a height of 100 meters. It was my first volplane, so I was somewhat excited. To my great astonishment nothing broke. The Czar, who was present at this meeting, wished to congratulate me. He asked what my feelings had been, and I was able to assure him that his presence in the first place, and the houses and the landing ground, which was only 30 meters wide, in the second, had brought my heart into my mouth.
     Then I set out for Budapest, where I successfully achieved a flight of 37 minutes. There again the factory chimneys, which served as pylons, so to speak, caused very disagreeable currents with their smoke. It was that flight which has left me with one of my most striking impressions. Nevertheless, in my opinion, the record for currents was broken at Rouen. There, being caught in a kind of tempest when I was in the air, I had to lower my equilabrator immediately and came to earth by the barriers that surrounded the aerodrome, where my biplane stood on end. If I had stopped my motor I should without doubt have fallen on the crowd. Happily, I had a little presence of mind left.

Baronne de la Roche
from an old lantern slide
Collection of Dennis Sarson, 4-20-04

Baronne de la Roche

Hi Ralph,
     I've been given a pile of old lantern slides mostly naval but a bit of aviation too. Included is a slide of Baroness de Laroche and I noted that you requested any information and wondered if it was any value to you. I've scanned it best I could and attached to this email. You would be most welcome to it, it would only rot in a cupboard somewhere if I held on to it.
Kind regards,
Dennis Sarson..Perth, Western Australia.

Daily Journal and Tribune,
Knoxville, Tennessee: 1912,
Transcribed by Bob Davis - 6-11-04
"Baroness Injured; Aviator Voisin Killed"
"Lyons, France, Sept. 26. - Baroness de la Roche, an aviatress, was desperately injured in an automobile collision near Bellville-Sur-Saone this evening. Charles Voisin, an aviator, was killed at the same time. "Baroness de la Roche was the first woman to make an aeroplane flight inFrance."


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       This website has one of the most complete stories on Baronne de la Roche that I have found. It also presents a wealth of information on most of the other aviation pioneers. I heartily recommend that you become familiar with its offerings. To access the entry on Baronne de la Roche, click on:
Baronne de la Roche

     The site offers many photographs of this pioneer flyer and has many links to other sources of information. You are well advised to go back to the homepage and take advantage of the many other outstanding offerings.

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     You will find a wealth of material in this incredible resource. You will find numerous entries for Baronne de Laroche. You can access it by clicking on the title.

Baronne de la Roche crashed and died in 1919.

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

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