Tomboy of the Air: Daredevil Pilot Blanche Stuart Scottby Julie Cummins
While American women were fighting for their right to vote, Blanche Stuart Scott asserted her right to fly. She had always been a daredevil and couldn't resist the temptation of traveling at incredible speeds and heights. So despite the dangers associated with early flight, public disapproval, and the forbidding attitude of men, Blanche took to the air. She became
While American women were fighting for their right to vote, Blanche Stuart Scott asserted her right to fly. She had always been a daredevil and couldn't resist the temptation of traveling at incredible speeds and heights. So despite the dangers associated with early flight, public disapproval, and the forbidding attitude of men, Blanche took to the air. She became the first woman to fly a plane in public in America.
After Blanche's launch into aviation, other women surpassed her feats by flying solo across the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean and even racing through space. But the contributions Blanche made were significant. Julie Cummins's engaging biography celebrates an aviation pioneer whose spunky, courageous personality helped her successors' dreams take flight.
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Speed and Balance
Even as a child, Blanche Stuart Scott was a daredevil. She was fascinated with activities that involved moving fast. "I always liked speed," she said, "and I had a very good sense of balance." That spunk and those skills would play a major role in her life.
Blanche was an only child, and her parents indulged her tomboyishinterests. Her father, John Stuart Scott, had made a fortune manufacturing a widely used patent medicine for horses. Blanche was his pride and joy, and he happily catered to her every whim. She won several medals for ice-skating, competing in long-distance events, and she was a sensation on a bicycle. She was determined to become an expert trick bike rider. I could always do any trick I ever saw done on a bike." But after she smashed up her seventh bike, her father declared he would never buy her another. She badgered him with tantrums and tears, and the very next day he gave in to her pleas, this time for a car, and bought her a Cadillac. Blanche was off and going full speed ahead.
Few of Blanche's antics would seem out of the ordinary except for the time when they happened: The year was 1902. At the turn of the century, automobiles were quite uncommon. The singlecylinder Cadillac Blanche's father bought her was one of only one hundred cars in Rochester, New York, where the Scotts lived. Streets were not paved, and driving a car was not something proper for any child to do, let alone a young girl! But Blanche was far from caring about being proper. At age thirteen, her reckless driving in the city startled the horsedrawn carriages and the pedestrians trying to walk on the streets.She became such a nuisance and a danger, speeding around the city at thirty miles an hour, that the Rochester City Council called a special meeting. Hoping to keep the streets safe, they issued an emphatic statement: "Stop this child from driving a dangerous vehicle!"' But since there were no laws governing automobiles and driver's licenses didn't exist, their ultimatum had no effect on Blanche. Impulsive and adventurous by nature, she wasn't about to let any city officials slow her down, and she went chugging merrily on her way.
The city's problem, or problem child, disappeared in a few years when Blanche's father died and her mother, Belle, took over his business. She sent Blanche off to boarding school in New England, with high hopes that her daughter would become more ladylike and ready to take her place in society. Somehow, Blanche's disposition didn't fit that mold.
Blanche came by her pluck and daring honestly. Her ancestors were direct descendants of Pilgrims who came to America on the Mayflower. Relatives would shake their heads over Blanche's escapades and say, "She's so like Grandmother Scott!" The comments pleased Blanche no end, as Grandmother Scott was strictly a no-nonsense pioneer homemaker, who was a deadly shot with a rifle.Tomboy of the Air. Copyright � by Julie Cummins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Stories of all sorts have always been an important part of Julie Cummins's life. In addition to serving as the coordinator of children's services for the New York Public Library, she has written numerous books, journal articles, and book reviews. Julie and husband Blair Cummins live in New York City.
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