Tomboy of the Air: Daredevil Pilot Blanche Stuart Scott

Tomboy of the Air: Daredevil Pilot Blanche Stuart Scott

by 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.

Editorial Reviews

The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“…a brief but well-documented biography, packed with plenty of quotes from Scott, …period photographs, and plenty of action.”
Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
...a brief but well-documented biography, packed with plenty of quotes from Scott...period photographs, and plenty of action.
Children's Literature
In 1910 when Blanche Stuart Scott became the first woman to drive an automobile cross-country, there were only 218 miles of paved roads in the U.S. (excluding the cities) and there were road maps for only certain parts of the country. During that trip, she made the statement, "Anyone poking around in the clouds in a glorified kite had to be a nut...a complete and absolute idiot!" Little did she know at the time that within months, she would become the first woman pilot in the U.S. Through daring and tenacity, "Daredevil Pilot Blanche Stuart Scott" set several aviation records for women, years before they had the right to vote. In spite of hate letters, broken bones and attempts on her life, she continued to fulfill her dream. Interesting facts and quotes from the biography are skillfully interwoven in the text and are accompanied by black-and-white photographs. Readers can see for themselves how flimsy these early planes were and how courageous she was. Not only will this fill in some gaps in our knowledge of women's history, it will also empower young women to pursue their own dreams, whatever they may be. Chronology, bibliography and index are included. 2001, HarperCollins, $16.95 and $16.89. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
This easily read biography presents a capsule life of a woman who made her name in aviation. As the only child of an affluent family, Scott was able to indulge her interests and set out to become a public figure first through automobiles and then in flight while meeting the pioneers of aviation. She eventually was involved in the designing and testing of new planes, trying new stunts for thrills, and learning lessons through serious accidents that eventually led her to give up flying and seek work in the film industry. She later became the first woman to fly in a jet when she flew with Chuck Yeager. Scott's successes opened the door for many other heralded women in flight. Wonderful black-and-white photographs show how awkward and impractical the early planes appeared and illustrate the unusual clothing Scott designed for her flying suit. Anecdotes include quotes from Scott's own writing, interviews with her, and contemporaneous reporting. It is clear that a combined spirit and determination allowed Scott to make the name she wanted. Well written and paced, this fine addition to the biography collection will engage readers interested in famous women or aviation. Unique in its subject matter, this brief book might cause problems for assignments that are based on page number requirements. An introduction to put the biography in context would be a useful addition. Index. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes. Chronology. VOYA CODES:4Q 3P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses;Will appeal with pushing;Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2001, HarperCollins, 80p, $16.95. Ages 11 to 14. Reviewer:Patricia Morrow—VOYA, December 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 5)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-A spellbinding biography, adroitly told. Before Amelia Earhart there was Blanche Stuart Scott. She was a daredevil, looking to make a name for herself in the early 20th century. And so she did. In 1910 she drove from New York to San Francisco, with the press in tow. She was the first woman to fly in the U.S., first to make a long-distance flight, first woman test pilot, and so on. Several attempts were made on her life, including two by a misogynist airplane mechanic. In one stunt mishap, she broke 41 bones. After giving up flying, she worked in Hollywood as a writer, and ended up back in her New York home as a radio talk-show host. As Cummins makes clear, she was a fascinating trailblazer, and not just in flight. Archival photographs, many with chatty captions, further enhance the engaging text. A time line sums up Scott's long, amazing life. It's a mystery that there are no other books on this incredible woman. Since readers and browsers might not have heard of her, a booktalk might be in order to introduce this page-turning thriller.-Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An entertaining and intelligent biography of a pioneering woman aviator. When Blanche Stuart Scott wrecked her seventh bicycle, her father swore he wouldn't buy her another one—so he bought her a Cadillac instead. The year was 1902 and Blanche was 13. Cummins (The Inside-Outside Book of Libraries, 1996, etc.) opens with this anecdote and goes on to spin the tale of a fiercely competitive—and virtually fearless—woman who first drove a car across the country and then went on to become the first woman in the US to fly an airplane. Billed as "The Tomboy of the Air," Scott flew with the best of the men in aerial circuses and was also intensely involved in the testing of the rapidly developing airplane technology. Illustrated with archival photos and sprinkled liberally with quotes from Scott's own (unpublished) memoir, this slim, efficient volume provides an overview of the early, almost lawless days of aviation, when crowds assembled at barnstorming events in the gruesome hopes of a crash or two. Throughout, Scott emerges as a woman not to be deterred from her goals, despite the nearly overwhelming social pressures to assume the conventional upper-class woman's role as wife and bridge-player. Thoroughly researched and solidly written, the simplicity of the text and the inviting format should appeal to middle-grade as well as older readers. (notes, chronology, bibliography, index) (Biography. 8-14)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)
1090L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >