Beryl Markham was born in England in 1902 and is best known for her solo flight across the Atlantic in 1936.
Her father moved to Kenya and established himself as a prominent horse-trainer. She grew up in the British Colony, and had a wild and adventurous childhood, which included hunting with the Masai. On her family’s farm, she developed her knowledge of and love for horses. At the age of 17, she became the first female race horse trainer in Africa and England.
Beryl also learnt to fly in Kenya in her 20’s. As a commercial pilot, she worked as a bush pilot, spotting game animals from the air and signaling their locations to safaris on the ground. She also transported people, mail and other goods.
As well as being an accomplished pilot and horse-trainer, Beryl was also a writer. She published her memoir ‘West With the Night’ in 1942. Ernest Hemingway is said to have admired her writing.
Beryl was the first person to make a successful solo flight from Europe to North America non-stop. This flight took 20 hours in her Vega Gull!
We admire Beryl as an aviation pioneer and adventurer. She was a tomboy, at the same time very feminine. She faced her fears and became successful in many different fields.