Eula “Pearl” Carter Scott made aviation history in1929 when she took off in a plane for a solo flight. Pearl, who was only 13 at the time, became the youngest pilot in the United States. She had been born in the city of Marlow in Oklahoma in 1915. Her mother was an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation.
Pearl demonstrated a strong enthusiasm for motorized means of transportation early on in life. She acquired her own automobile when she was only 11, for example, and taught herself how to drive it by the time she turned 12. It was around the same time that Pearl’s interest in flying was first kindled because of a visit by aviation pioneer Wiley Post to her family home. During that visit, longtime family friend Post took both Pearl and her father for their first ride in a plane. To say that Pearl was enthralled by the experience would be an understatement.
“I knew right then, while I was in the air with Wiley that first day, that I would fly someday,” Pearl later recalled. “I asked him a hundred questions while we were up in the air, and as soon as he set the plane down, I ran over and told Daddy that I wanted to learn to fly.”
Post subsequently taught Pearl how to fly. After she had taken several months’ worth of lessons, her father surprised her with her own Curtiss Robbin monoplane. This was the aircraft that Pearl used for her record-setting first solo flight. Over the next few years, Pearl took to the skies on a regular basis as a stunt pilot.
Pearl married at 16 and initially continued to fly. After the birth of her second child, however, she decided to quit flying and instead focus on her family. She made one known exception to this no-more-flying rule when Post let her take to the air in his Lockheed Vega plane “Winnie Mae,” which he had used in 1933 for the first solo aerial circumnavigation of Earth.
Later in life, Pearl served others in the Chickasaw nation as one of its first community health representatives. She also served three terms in the Chickasaw legislature. Pearl died in 2005 at the age of 90.
Pearl received a variety of honors for her accomplishments. She was inducted into the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Aviation and Space Hall of Fame, and the International Women’s Air& Space Museum Hall of Fame. In addition, Pearl was a charter member of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. For more information on Eula “Pearl” Carter Scott, please check out https://hof.chickasaw.net/Inductees/1995/Pearl-Carter-Scott.aspx.