Blanche "Betty" Stuart Scott

1st American Woman Pilot

 

 

 

 

Glenn Curtiss Museum

Hammondsport

Since Blanche had already been a "passenger" in an aeroplane, Jerome Fancuilli, who represented the Glenn Curtiss Exhibition Team in New York City, contacted her and suggested that she might like to learn to fly. Blanche accepted. She missed all of the attention and excitment she experienced on her car trip.  Blanche went to Hammondsport in upstate New York with the contract to learn to fly that had been given to her by Fancuilli. Curtiss was reluctant to teach a woman. He thought that if an accident occurred, it would reflect poorly on his aeroplane business.  Blanche became his only female student.


The first step was to master the aeroplane on the ground. This consisted of "grass cutting", which was in reality taxi training. Blanche's first problem, was that her skirt kept on blowing up in her face, so that she could not see where she was going. An enterprising Curtiss'"mechanician" (mechanic) gave her his bicycle clips. She gathered her skirt about her ankles. The aeroplane had only one seat. Curtiss would run along side the plane shouting instructions.

 

The second step was called "hopping". The student would apply power with a left foot throttle and become barely airborne, then return to the ground. In each case mechanicians at either end of the field would pick up the aeroplane and turn it around so that practice could continue in either direction. Steering the aeroplane was acomplished by turning the wheel similar to a car. Pushing or pulling on the wheel would cause it to go downward or rise. Lateral balance is controlled by a moveable yoke with a frame that fit around the aviatiors shoulders, that was attached to the aviators seat, and by leaning either left or right as necessary.

 

Blanche claimed that in August 1910, a gust of wind picked her up and she soared to 40 feet, then she returned to the ground under control. She never claimed this as her first solo. In early September 1910 Blanche did solo with two turns around the field. George Milton Dunlap, a Curtiss mechanic has signed an affidavit saying he witnessed this on September 6, 1910. No members of the press were present.

Glenn Curtiss Museum
Glenn Curtiss Museum