Aviation Pioneers

Gaby Angelini, Successful Italian Female Aviator

Brave and passionate people who love flying have always risked their lives for their love of the skies. While sometimes it resulted in incredible things, sometimes it caused young people full of life to perish. Since flying a plane always has many risks associated with it, it sometimes causes tragic events. Gaby Angelini was one of those brave and passionate people that we have lost to a tragic accident. She surely had incredible amounts of love for flying and was a skilled aviator. Her life story is definitely worth talking about and we can at least try to emulate her passion for what she found valuable. So, let’s start learning about the life of Gaby Angelini.

Gaby Angelini’s Early Life And Passion For Aviation

Gaby Angelini
source: wikipedia

Gabriella Angelini was born on the 24th of September 1911 in a town called Susa, located in the northwestern part of Italy close to the French border. Her mother had a successful career in the pharmaceutical and Gaby came from a wealthy family. As she spent her childhood in the beautiful town of Susa, Gaby’s mother wanted her to pursue more ordinary interests for someone of her age, gender and social status. So, she tried to get Gaby to learn to play the piano and take classical ballet lessons.

Even though Gaby’s mother had other plans in mind about Gaby’s future, she was very passionate about the skies and flying. At that time aviation was in its early phases and it was an extra dangerous endeavour. However, this didn’t discourage Gaby one bit because she most likely believed that aviation was in her destiny.

Then, her childhood passion grew even more powerful after visiting Società Italiana Ernesto Breda, a mechanical manufacturing company in Milan that produced aircraft. There she had an opportunity to take a test flight which absolutely amazed her and gave her more motivation to pursue aviation.

Soon after she started taking flight lessons in order to obtain her pilot’s license. Then, when she was just 19, she got her pilot’s license in 1931 following her flight training. Her training was completed in Aero Club Milano and her instructor was Francesco Monti. Now that she finally had a pilot’s license she was already planning for achieving incredible feats. As she had gotten her training and license, she immediately took place in a competition to test her skills in a real world situation. She finished on the 7th place, which is a pretty good result considering that it was her first competition.

Flights Of Gaby Angelini

Passionate about aviation from the start, it didn’t take Gaby Angelini to start to get more involved in aviation and try achieving incredible feats. At the time she was thinking of following in the footsteps of other brave aviators who had accomplished many impressive things. One of her heroes in aviation was Carlo Francis Lombardi and she wanted to pull of spectacular flights like he did.

On the summer of 1932, only a year after getting her pilot’s license, Gaby Angelini decided to take on a very dangerous challenge. She was going to fly all over Europe, flying over many European countries like France, United Kingdom, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. This was going to be the first time for a woman to do a flight all over Europe.

Thanks to her skills as an aviator, she completed the flight without any big issues. However, the landing at the end wasn’t perfect, but it was due to her aircraft, a Breda Ba.15, getting low on fuel. Because of this daring flight, she became very popular among people. As she went back to Italy, many people greeted her and she even received and important medal: Golden Eagle. When she completed this bold feat, she was not even twenty years old yet. So, people started referring to her as Little Gaby, which became a nickname that stuck with her ever since.

Her Tragic Death And The Aftermath

After her successful European flight, she wanted to keep on trying on new challenges. Now she wanted to fly from Italy to India, flying over Rome, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Iraq and Pakistan. The beginning part of the flight was smooth, however when going over Libya she decided to fly through the desert. Because she thought that following this route would be safer. But unfortunately this wasn’t the case and her aircraft crashed there, with Little Gaby dying in the process.

Then they found her body and buried her in the Monumental Cemetery of Milan. Over 120.000 people went to her funeral to pay their respects. One year after her death, Gaby’s mother got her diary published after editing it for everyone to see another side of her. Today Gaby Angelini is remembered as a free spirited aviator who was brave, daring, intelligent and fearless.


Anon. (n.d.), Gaby Angelini, Wikipedia, Retrieved 9 December 2021

< https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaby_Angelini >

Anon. (n.d.), Gaby Angelini, Italian Wikipedia, Retrieved 9 December 2021

< https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaby_Angelini >