women in aviation and space history

Blanche Stuart Scott

Blanche Stuart Scott
SI-72-4803
National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Blanche Stuart Scott

Early Flight (107)

Blanche Stuart Scott was the first American woman to take a solo hop into the air, although her flight is not regarded as official. Always interested in a challenge, Scott became the first woman to drive an automobile coast to coast in 1910. As she passed through Dayton, Ohio, she watched a Wright aircraft in flight, and she received her first airplane ride after she reached California. Scott's auto trip drew the attention of Jerome Fanciulli, of the Curtiss exhibition team, who asked her if she would like to learn to fly. Glenn Curtiss did not share Fanciulli's enthusiasm for the stunt, however he agreed to give her lessons. She was the first and only woman to receive instruction from Curtiss. To prevent her aircraft from gaining enough speed to become airborne while taxiing on her own, Curtiss inserted block of wood behind the throttle pedal. However, "something happened" on September 2, and Scott managed to fly to an altitude of 12 meters (40 feet) in the air. She continued her lessons and made her debut as a member of the Curtiss team at a Chicago air meet on October 1- 9, 1910. Scott flew for several exhibition teams, performing inverted flight and "Death Dives" from 1,219 meters (4,000 feet). She was bothered by the public's interest in crashes and the lack of opportunities for women as engineers or mechanics, so she retired from flying in 1916. After a career in radio and film writing, she became a special consultant to the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, into the 1950s.

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