Wilhelmine Reichard

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Wilhelmine Reichard
Wilhelmine Reichard around 1820
Born (1788-03-02)2 March 1788
Brunswick, Germany
Died 22 February 1848(1848-02-22) (aged 59)
Döhlen, Germany
Occupation Balloonist
Known for First solo balloon flight by a German woman
Spouse(s) Johann Gottfried Reichard

Johanne Wilhelmine Siegmundine Reichard (née Schmidt) (April 2, 1788, Braunschweig, Germany – February 22, 1848, Döhlen, Germany) was the first German female balloonist.


Reichard was the daughter of a cup-bearer of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. She married the chemist and physicist Johann Gottfried Reichard in 1807 and their first child was born in 1807. The family moved to Berlin in 1810. That same year Johann Gottfried Reichard made his first flight in a self-constructed gas balloon from Berlin, making him the second person to fly in a gas balloon in Germany.[1][2]

On 16 April 1811 Wilhemine Reichard made her first solo flight, starting in Berlin. She reached a height of over 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) and landed safely in Genshagen, 33.5 kilometres (20.8 mi) from her starting point. This was not the first solo flight by a woman in Germany; the Frenchwoman Sophie Blanchard had previously made a flight in September 1810, starting from Frankfurt. Reichard's third flight in 1811 reached a height of approximately 7,800 metres (25,600 ft). Due to the altitude she lost consciousness and her balloon crash-landed in a forest; badly injured, she was rescued by local farmers.[1][2][3]

After some difficulties during the Napoleonic wars, her husband wanted to purchase a chemical factory in Döhlen. To raise the money, Wilhemine Reichard conducted several more flights. Her first flight after the accident in 1811 took place in October 1816.[1][2] A later flight took place during the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in Aachen in 1818. Flights in Prague and Vienna also made her known in Austria-Hungary. Her last flight was in October 1820, starting in Munich at the Oktoberfest, which was held on the 10th anniversary of the first Oktoberfest. In 1821, the chemical factory started operations.[1][2]

Wilhelmine's husband conducted balloon flights until 1835. He died in 1844, and Wilhelmine managed the chemical factory until her own death in 1848.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c d e Probst, Ernst (August 2010). Königinnen der Lüfte in Europa (in German). pp. 197–210. ISBN 978-3-640-68876-0. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Wilhelmine Reichard - Deutschlands erste Ballonfahrerin Freital.de" (in German). Retrieved 2011-04-21. 
  3. ^ Reichard, G (1812). "Beschreibung der von Wilhelmine Reichard, geb. Schmidt, unternommenen dritten Lfuftfahrt". Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (in German). 

Further reading

  • Heide Monjau (2009). Wilhelmine Reichard: Erste Deutsche Ballonfahrerin 1788 Bis 1848 Eine Dokumentarische Biographie (in German). ISBN 978-3-00-003051-2. 
  • Haude, Rüdiger (2007). Grenzflüge: politische Symbolik der Luftfahrt vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg : das Beispiel Aachen (in German). ISBN 978-3-412-20059-6. 
  • "Wilhelmine Reichard" (in German). Stadtwiki Dresden. 
  • Probst, Ernst (2010). Wilhelmine Reichard (in German). doi:10.3239/9783640545742. ISBN 978-3-640-54574-2. 
  • Monjau, Heide (2003), "Reichard, Johanne Wilhelmine (Minna) Siegmundine", Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German), 21, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 293–294 
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