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The Tomboy of the Air

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Blogs across the Smithsonian will give an inside look at the Institution’s archival collections and practices during a month long blogathon in celebration of October’s American Archives Month. See additional posts from our other participating blogs, as well as related events and resources, on the Smithsonian’s Archives Month website .

One hundred and one years ago, on October 23, 1910, Blanche Stuart Scott made her first public flight with the Glenn Curtiss Exhibition Team in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Scott, billed as the “Tomboy of the Air,” is one of America’s earliest female aviators.  There is conflicting evidence regarding the exact date of Blanche Stuart Scott’s first solo flight, so we may never determine which of Scott or Bessica Raiche was, indeed, America’s first female to fly solo.

 

Blanche Stuart Scott

Blanche Stuart Scott seated at the controls of a Curtiss Model D, circa early 1910s. SI-72-4803-A

 

There are also conflicting reports on Scott’s appearance in Fort Wayne.  The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reported that Scott flew across the field and landed immediately, though she had wished to make a few circles.  In later years, Scott remembered making eight circles of the field.  In most reports, Scott’s flew at a height of approximately twelve feet, ostensibly because show promoters did not want outside spectators to get a free show.

Regardless of these conflicting reports, Blanche Stuart Scott is a pioneer of American aviation.  The Blanche Stuart Scott Collection (Acc. No. XXXX-0062) at the National Air and Space Museum Archives Division contains 0.0283 cubic meters (one cubic foot) of material relating to the pioneering aviatrix. It includes correspondence, memorabilia, and a great many newspaper clippings.   A finding aid to the collection can be found in both PDF and HTML formats.  The Archives Division also has a sizeable file on Scott in its Biographical Technical Files.

Elizabeth C. Borja is a reference services archivist in the National Air and Space Museum’s Archives Division.

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