Women in Transportation History: Blanche Stuart Scott, Automotive and Aviation Pioneer

Blanche Stuart Scott, who made notable contributions involving two modes of transportation, was born in Rochester, New York, in1885. She developed a strong interest in automobiles early on in life. In 1910, Scott became only the second woman — after Alice Huyler Ramsey — to drive one of those vehicles from one coast to another within the United States. 

In making that transcontinental trek along with a reporter named Gertrude Buffington Phillips, Scott also had the distinction of being the first woman to drive westwards from New York City to San Francisco. Her trip was sponsored by the Willys-Overland Company, and the automobile was called “Lady Overland.” 

Scott subsequently embarked on a similarly impressive career in flight. She became the only woman to receive flying instructions directly from aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss.  In addition, Scott was one of the first women to fly solo in the United States. As a professional pilot, she participated in various air meets as a member of the Curtiss exhibition team. She ultimately earned the nickname “Tomboy of the Air.” Scott’s stunt-pilot achievements included flying upside down. 

Her other airborne accomplishments involved becoming the first woman in the United States to both fly long distance (for a total of 60 miles [96.6 kilometers] non-stop) and perform as a test pilot for experimental aircraft. Scott, due to her strong concerns about both public fascination with air crashes and the aviation industry’s lack of employment opportunities for women wishing to become mechanics or engineers, retired from flying in 1916. 

Scott’s interest in aviation remained strong, however. In 1948, for example, she became the first American woman to fly in a jet when she was the passenger in a Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star aircraft piloted by Chuck Yeager. Scott also worked for the U.S. Air Force Museum, helping to acquire historic aviation materials for that institution. She died in Rochester in1970 at the age of 84.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on Blanche Stuart Scott, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blanche_Scott

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