Princess Eugenie Mikhailovna Shakhovskaya

Princess Eugenie Mikhailovna was born in 1889 close to the then capital of Imperial Russia, St. Petersburg. Little is known about Eugenie’s early life, but it is recorded that her father was a Baron and owned several textile and fabric mills. There is no record of Eugenie’s mother, siblings or indeed what her life entailed up until she started taking flying lessons in Germany in 1911. Eugenie paid for these lessons herself and was eventually awarded her licence in 1912, after taking more lessons with the Wright Company. However, Eugenie’s first foray into being a pilot was short lived as in 1913, she gave up flying after her flying instructor died in-flight.

However, Eugenie was persuaded to join the Imperial Russian Air Force and became a Junior Officer in 1914. Eugenie was posted to the Northwestern Front where she joined the 1st Field Air Detachment and undertook reconnaissance missions. Eugenie came under fire numerous times and for her bravery was awarded the Military Order of St. George by Czar Nikolai II. After the end of WWI, details about Eugenie’s life are few and far between. It is reported that she fought on the “White” side in the Russian Civil War and eventually died in 1920, aged only 31. However, Eugenie would become famous as the first ever female military pilot and would pave the way for future generations of young Russian woman pilots in WWII.

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