More than 100,000 people participated in the virtual vote carried out by Casa de Moneda, which chose Margot Duhalde as the most esteemed woman in the history of Chile.
Thanks to this vote, the first female pilot in our country’s history will be the face of a new commemorative banknote to celebrate the 280th anniversary of the founding of Casa de Moneda, Chile’s national mint.
This outstanding woman, a pioneer in world aviation, managed to shift paradigms, open up spaces that were not thought possible and become a source of inspiration for so many women.
Her courage and convictions are a true reflection of what our women are doing every day for the development of Chile.
Margot Duhalde Sotomayor (1920-2018)
Like many young girls, Margot always dreamed of flying. She was born in Río Bueno, the eldest of twelve siblings in the Duhalde Sotomayor family. Her father was a farmer and her mother dedicated herself to housework.
Her dreams were enormous and her passion irrepressible. At the age of 16, she lied to take an aviation pilot course and join the Chilean Air Club in Santiago. In 1938, when she was not yet 18 years old, she graduated as a civilian pilot, despite the fact that the instructors were reluctant to accept her at first.
After getting her wings, her goal was to travel to Europe, and she told another lie, stating that she would go to Canada as an instructor. At the outbreak of World War II, Margot enlisted in the Free France forces under General Charles De Gaulle in England. From there, she joined the Air Auxiliary Transport Corps, contributing to the allies’ cause. Margot flew more than one hundred types of aircraft during the war.
But none of it was easy. She had to learn a language she did not speak and fly in adverse weather conditions, always running the risk of being attacked by enemies. And worst of all was dealing with a culture that imposed machismo. She overcame all of this because her passion for flying was much greater.
She married three times, and had a son from her second marriage.
On her return to Chile, she flew for private companies and was later employed in the Chilean Air Force as an air traffic controller, becoming the first woman to hold this position in the country. She was honored by different governments for her exploits and the example she set, and was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her actions during the war.
Margot Duhalde passed away in Santiago in 2018.