Porsche has had some interesting customers over the years, including plenty of celebrities, but few can rival the life story of Jolantha Tschudi, a Swiss amateur pilot and the first female customer of the Porsche brand.

Tschudi made her fist solo flight at just 18 years old. She also studied ethnology, and in December 1946 set off on the first of what would be many trips to Africa to document indigenous people previously unknown to Europeans. In the ensuing years, Tschudi and her companion, a museum curator, would cover more than 8,000 miles in a single-engine Stinson airplane—with six emergency landings.

Tschudi would return to Africa several more times, but she also had an interest in terrestrial transportation. In 1948 she became the first woman to buy a Porsche when she purchased a dark blue 356/2 convertible from Bernhard Blank, a Zurich hotelier and one of the first Porsche dealers. The convertible was one of the first two cars Blank acquired; the other was a white 356/2 coupe.

This was the first year of production for Porsche, which built its first batch of cars in Gmünd, Austria, before shifting production to Germany. Unlike later 356 models, these early cars had hand-formed bodywork. Tschudi's car had a body made by coachbuilder Gebrüder Beutler.

Jolantha Tschudi was the first woman to buy a Porsche

Jolantha Tschudi was the first woman to buy a Porsche

Tschudi was presented with her Porsche at the 1948 Geneva auto show. She drove it on trips to gliding spots in the Alps, where she made multiple altitude and distance records as a member of the Swiss national gliding team. She didn't own the car for very long, though. After hitting a curb on the Julier Pass in the Swiss canton of Grisons, she sold the damaged Porsche to her brother.

After marrying and having two sons, Tschudi eventually gave up flying as well, but continued to pursue a passion for hunting and ethnographic research. She died in 2011 at the age of 86.