Scott, Blanche (c. 1885–1970)

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Scott, Blanche (c. 1885–1970)

First American woman to fly an airplane. Name variations: Blanche Stuart Scott. Born in Rochester, New York, around 1885; died on January 12, 1970, in Rochester, New York; attended Fort Edward College, New York.

Born around 1885, Blanche Scott had several "firsts" in her remarkable life. In 1910, she drove from New York to San Francisco in a car, only the second woman to do so. (The first had been Alice Huyler Ramsey in 1909.) On September 2 of that same year she took the first solo airplane flight by a woman, albeit by accident when a sudden wind lifted her training plane above the runway. Flying became her life's passion, and in 1912 Scott made her first flight across the country, a 69-day trip. Soon after, she joined a flying exhibition team as the "tomboy of the air" and earned as much as $5,000 a week for her daredevil dives and other stunts. Barnstorming was a popular form of entertainment in the early 1900s, and she continued on the team until 1916.

Scott switched careers to screenwriting and radio broadcasting in the 1920s, but stayed involved in the continuing development of airplanes. She was invited to fly in a U.S. Air Force Shooting Star jet fighter in 1948, becoming the first woman to fly in a jet. She also served as a consultant to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. On the 50th anniversary of her first flight, Scott was honored by the Antique Airplane Association. She died in Rochester, New York, in 1970.

sources:

Read, Phyllis J., and Bernard L. Witlieb. The Book of Women's Firsts. NY: Random House, 1992.

Sally Cole-Misch , freelance writer, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan