Unusual real name: Bessica

American Pilot Bessica Raiche (1875-1932)
Bessica Raiche

Did you know that the first woman in the U.S. to fly a plane solo (intentionally*) was named Bessica?

Dr. Bessica “Bessie” Raiche (1875-1932) flew her homemade airplane on September 16, 1910, in Hempstead Plains, New York. It was her first time flying a plane, and during the short flight she “skimmed over the airfield a few feet off the ground.”

A month later, Aeronautical Society of America presented Bessica with a gold medal inscribed to “the first woman aviator of America.”

Bessica was a medical doctor, and she flew planes for only a short time before moving to California and resuming her medical practice.

Her mother’s name was Elizabeth, so I’m guessing “Bessica” was based on Bess, the diminutive of Elizabeth.

Do you like the name Bessica? Would you use it for a modern-day baby girl?

*Two weeks earlier, pilot Blanche Stuart Scott had unintentionally become airborne while taxiing a plane.


3 thoughts on “Unusual real name: Bessica

  1. I’m not crazy about the name Bessica, but I found Bessica herself to be a very interesting and accomplished person. Thanks for bringing her to my attention!

  2. There was a middle grade novel that came out a few years ago called The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter.

  3. I’m surprised your source referred to her as an “aviator”. I thought “aviatrix” was the term of art back then.

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