What first caught my eye in this photo, well, it was that hat. Look at that sucker!
That’s Eugenie Mikhailovna Shakhovskaya, Princess and first female military pilot who flew for the Czar in 1914. The man is Wssewolod Abramovitch, pilot and inventor.
A closer look reveals how crazy those aviation pioneers must have been. Imagine sitting next to an engine, it’s fuel tank hanging above your head, with little more to hold on to than hope and little more protection from the elements than a sturdy leather jacket. And if that man looks a tad bit uneasy, perhaps he somehow knew that one day he’d die in a crash while the Princess was at the controls. She walked away uninjured. In fact, she’s almost more interesting than that old airplane, and a couple of times as dangerous.
Eugenie M. Shakhovskaya was Russia’s first woman military pilot. Served with the 1st Field Air Squadron. Unknown if she actually flew any combat missions, and she was ultimately charged with treason and attempting to flee to enemy lines. Sentenced to death by firing squad, sentence commuted to life imprisonment by the Tsar, freed during the Revolution, became chief executioner for Gen. Tchecka and drug addict, shot one of her assistants in a narcotic delerium and was herself shot. –Wikipedia
What a woman!