women in aviation and space history

Blanche Noyes

Blanche Noyes
NASM-97-15069
National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Blanche Noyes

Golden Age of Flight (105)

Blanche Noyes left a promising theater and movie career to marry an airmail pilot who wound up teaching her to fly. Dewey Noyes bought Blanche her first plane in 1929 and taught her to fly because he wanted to prove that anyone could do it. She soloed on February 15, 1929, and earned her license in July, becoming the first woman pilot in the Cleveland area. She immediately entered the Women's Air Derby from Santa Monica to Cleveland and placed fourth. Noyes was a demonstration pilot for Standard Oil in 1931 and continued flying with various corporations until 1935. Following the death of her husband in a crash in 1935, Noyes joined the Air Marking Group of the Bureau of Air Commerce in the summer of 1936, and later was a member of the Women's Advisory Committee on Aeronautics. Blanche was the copilot for Louise Thaden when Thaden won the 1936 Bendix Trophy Race, a first for a woman. For many years, she was the only woman pilot allowed to fly a government aircraft. Throughout her career, she authored many newspaper and aviation magazine articles. Noyes, who raced in nearly every national air race for women, was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1970. In recognition of her 35 years of government service for air safety, Noyes became the first woman to receive a gold medal from the Commerce Department.

(information compiled by D. Cochrane and P. Ramirez)