Biography of Early Female Flyer Blanche Stuart Scott Part 1

About an early woman flyer Blanche Stuart Scott, history and biography of the pilot.




Blanche Stuart Scott, only child of a prominent Rochester, N.Y., family, didn't plan an aviation career. It just happened. Her father, John Stuart Scott, drummed independence of thought and action into his daughter, and she never relinquished that attitude. She set out early to be a winner on ice skates and took several medals. Then she parted with several yards of skin and wrecked seven bicycles before her father called a halt to her determination to be a champion trick bike artist and bought her a one-cylinder Cadillac. In 1905, however, the Rochester City Council met in a hastily summoned session "to get that juvenile juggernaut off the streets and roads of our city." Red-faced, they adjourned when they learned that there was no ordinance governing the ownership or operation of motor vehicles. The menace, however, went away-to finishing school.

Five years later, a family disagreement over college took Blanche to New York City, where she became the first automobile saleswoman.

Blanche Stuart Scott, world's first professional female pilot, being taught to fly by Glenn Curtiss in 1910. She moved with a theatrical crowd but acknowledged that she did not have the patience for a long apprenticeship in drama. Petite, handsome, red-haired Blanche wanted a quick ticket to fame and fortune. She proposed to Overland Motors that they sponsor her in a transcontinental trip to be made without any masculine help. Overland accepted, and Blanche embarked on a crash course in auto mechanics. Then she launched a 6,000-mi. cross-country jaunt with a nondriving female companion on May 10, 1910. It isn't that far across the country, but Blanche had to stop at every Overland dealer en route. Also, outside of cities in 1910, there were only 218 mi. of paved roads.

The trip was a great success. Blanche collected $5,000 plus an additional $1,000 for extending the drive from San Francisco to Tijuana, Mexico.

Three incidents along the way influenced her future. At Dayton, O., a crowd of 10,000 delayed her auto while two planes made history overhead by flying over the same field at the same time. The pilots were Orville Wright and his first student, Al Welch. Blanche noted that there just might be something to this new flying craze. She also met Glenn Martin, pioneer pilot and plane builder. Then in Tijuana Blanche was supposed to be the first female plane passenger. But she arrived at the field to find the Farman plane a pile of junk from a freak accident. The AP man with her confessed he'd already filed the story, and Blanche kept quiet so he wouldn't lose his job. In New York, Frank Tipton, press agent for Glenn Curtiss, read the AP story and suggested that Blanche Scott learn to fly.

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