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237 MATILDA E. MOISANT Early Bleriot Monoplane Pilot Matilda Moisant was born at Earl Park, Benton County, Indiana, September 13, 1887, one of five children, two boys and three girls. When Matilda was quite young the family moved to Alameda, California, where she attended grade and high schools. Information is not available concerning her early life, but she evidently became interested in aviation when her two brothers entered the flying game in 1909-1910. First, her brother John built an airplane, then decided he had better learn to fly, so he went to France and took lessons at the Bleriot School at Issy. He then bought a new Bleriot plane and returned to the United States in September, 1910, with his new machine. Several young French aviators also came to the United States at that time and joined with John to form the International Aviators troupe to tour the country giving exhibitions. John wanted to go into aviation "in a big way" and, with his brother Alfred, planned to form a company to build airplanes and conduct a flying school. Matilda toured the exhibition circuit some with John during the late fall of 1910, and although he was killed in a crash at New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 31st, she was still determined to learn to fly. Alfred went ahead with the plans, did build some planes and the Moisant Flying School was started at Hempstead, Long Island, New York, about May 1, 1911. Matilda started to take flying lessons that month from instructor Andre [[strikethrough]] Hourpert [[/strikethrough]] Houpert. Moisant-built, single-seat Bleriot-copy machines were used for primary training, powered by 3-cylinder, 30 h.p., Anzani engines. Harriet Quimby and F. deMurias were also taking instruction there at the same time. Matilda recieved verbal ground instruction from Houpert and literally taught herself to fly in a single seat plane with ground advice. Taxi work, then hops, gradually became short flights and eventually she circled the field. The Anzani engine would overheat, terminating extended flying. By July Matilda
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