A female long-distance pilot in the 1930s? There was one: Elly Maria Frida Rosemeyer-Beinhorn, or Elly Beinhorn for short, who took on the challenge of a 7,000-kilometer solo flight across Africa in 1931, making her a star.

Emergency landings and other adventures were par for the course. But the German pilot mastered them all thanks to her technical expertise and equipment from Bosch. “With your magnets and plugs reached destination safely despite sandstorms, heat, etc.,” she wrote on a postcard sent to Bosch headquarters from Bissau on February 3, 1931 – reason enough for her to accept an invitation to visit Robert Bosch AG in Stuttgart upon her return. On May 12, members of senior management welcomed Elly Beinhorn to the company’s offices and gave her a tour of the aircraft component production plant in Stuttgart.

It is probably safe to say that Beinhorn’s African adventure helped spark her interest in further flights of fancy. In 1932, 1935, and 1936, she took to the skies to circumnavigate the globe and set records by crossing two and then three continents in 24 hours – all with Bosch on board. The company’s products made such a lasting impression on her that she sent a telegram to Bosch in 1933 reading: “previous bosch experience reaffirmed on berlin cape town flight … not a spark plug replaced the entire journey = elly beinhorn.”

Smiles all around: pioneering pilot Elly Beinhorn visits Bosch headquarters in Stuttgart upon her return from Africa.

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