We talked about the flight queen, Amelia Earhart. Her first transatlantic flight, without a co-pilot, in May 1932, was the most visible event in which a woman could stand out in the aeronautical field, in an intense period of emancipation of women in a field of pioneering for the whole world.
The prejudices of the weather, not at all common with women’s access to fields that require courage, huge risks and a different way of living, have brought many obstacles in the way of women who wanted a career in this area.
The hostility of the society did not prevent the young Smaranda Brăescu from following her dream. The ambitious daughter of Hănțești village, Tecuci, the ambitious Smaranda, managed without any support to lay the foundations of Romanian parachuting and to record numerous records. She was the first female pilot in Romania, the first female parachutist with a patent in Romania, European parachuting champion (1931) and world champion (in 1932, with a record of 7,233 m in Sacramento, USA).
Her photo of a Romanian woman on board the plane went around the world, talking about the courage of the Romanian woman who defied all the canons of a society that hardly left room for women in positions reserved for men.
125 years after the birth of Smaranda Brăescu and the 90th anniversary of the absolute record for skydiving, on May 19, 1932, the Romanian Government established the year 2022 as the Year of Smaranda Brăescu.
The first woman in Europe with a pilot’s license
The interwar period was a good time for women to assert themselves in aviation. Even if this involved efforts, especially financial ones, and all kinds of giving up, there were some daring women who overcame their status as submissive women, who did not go beyond the traditional canons imposed by the conservative society.
The example of a few people also helped them – Elena Caragiani Stoienescu, who obtained her pilot’s license in 1914, in Paris. 4. In turn, she is encouraged by the performance of the first female pilot – Baroness Raymonde de la Roche (France), who obtained her patent in 1910, and Harriet Quimby, who became a pilot in 1911, in America.
In Romania, Smaranda Brăescu, nicknamed the “Queen of Heights”, stands out with a unique aeronautical record: the first European to hold a pilot’s license, the absolute world record for altitude, parachute jump, made in 1932 in America, following a jump made with a parachute of Romanian construction, from a height of 7400 m, with a duration of 25 minutes. At the same time, the Romanian participates in numerous domestic and international aeronautical rallies, a series of European air raids, and last but not least, she voluntarily enlisted in the White Squadron, destined to transport the wounded, medicines and medical personnel in the Second World War.
Although she went through two accidents, one by plane in 1929 and the second by parachute, in 1930, which required months of hospitalization and recovery, Smaranda did not give up.
His achievements were rewarded by King Charles II with the Golden Cross of Aeronautical Virtue, the most coveted military aviation decoration. The American record was approved by the International Aviation Federation, and the news spread around the world, inscribing its name forever in the Golden Book of World Aviation.
More about the life of this aviator, you can find out from the book Dan Antoniu, “The heroine of the sky – myth and truth about the aviator Smaranda Brăescu”.
The communist regime was not his ally at all, and Smaranda’s courageous and justice-loving nature caused him many problems in the new order. The aviator’s involvement in signing a 1946 memorandum revealing the falsification of the election results led to her missing a prison sentence.
Her friends helped her hide and be hospitalized under a false name at the Cluj Hospital, where she was operated on for breast cancer. In 1948 she passed away and was buried in Cluj under the name of Maria Popescu.
“It simply came to our notice then. I give my life to the country and I want to give it a beautiful and full of glory. I will only return victorious! ”, Smaranda Brăescu would declare full of enthusiasm and hope before leaving for America to reach the 1932 world record.
Photo: Wikipedia, Facebook page dedicated to Smaranda Brăescu