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First Woman to Fly Plane Kisses and Tells of Early Days in Air

Glen Curtiss watching Blanche Stuart Scott in the "undertaker's chair," preparing for one of her early flights.

When she was Daredevil Betty Scott.

World-Telegram Staff Photo.
Blanche Stuart Scott as she appears today.

Under those bloomers were three petticoats.

Betty Scott Has Reunion Here with Aviation Pals of 1911.
World-Telegram Staff Writer.

More men have kissed Blanche Stuart Scott this week than had in a year, she said today. She was the first woman ever to fly a plane, and she came here for the National Air Show. Those greeting her included some she hadn't seen since her daredevil days of 1911. There were Bud Mars, Hank Miller, Ernie Jones, Gus Post, famous balloonist; Captain Horace Wild, dirigible man, and Harry Childs.

Miss Scott, who is usually called Betty, and who is at the Hotel Winthrop, is worried only by some of the pictures that have got out, showing her early flying costumes. Because today she's a modern looking person, with her neatly cut black dress.

"What I think of those costumes and those pictures of them," she vociferated, "isn't fit to print in your paper. The bloomers, however, were made at the time by a Fifth Ave. tailor. They were the last word. But did I have to take it on the chin yesterday when somebody dug up those photographs!

Cold Out There.

"You know it was cold out there on the little 'undertaker's chair' you sat on in the plane, and it was windy. Under the bloomers you wore plenty of clothes.

"Most respectable women wore three petticoats. My three were probably all in there, stuffed under the bloomers."

Miss Scott confessed that her first flight, which also was the first flight of any woman flier, was involuntary.  It was while she was learning the art from Glenn H. Curtiss.

"In those days," she recounted, "they didn't take you up in the air to teach you. They gave you a bit of preliminary ground training. They told you this and that.  You got in. They kissed you goodbye, and trusted to luck you'd get back."

Grass-Cutting Lesson.

The ground training included "grass-cutting." This consisted of taxiing up and down the field, with the motor's speed checked by a governor to prevent the plane's rising from the ground.

Miss Scott went to the Curtiss Airport at Hammondsport for this training. She stepped into the plane, and "grass-cut" down the field.

"When I came back," she said, "a puff of wind caught me.  It blew me into the air forty or fifty feet, and this seemed like 400. Yes, I got down all right. After that, I wasn't going to stay on the ground any more, and I never did.

A Social Invitation.

The uncertainty of flying in those days was illustrated by the following social invitation, which Miss Scott produced from her scrapbook:–

"During Mrs. Marsh's musicale at Bellerose, L. I. next Saturday afternoon, Miss Scott will alight in her aeroplne, between the hours of 2:30 and 6 P. M. for tea."  Miss Scott doesn't remember whether she got there at 2:30 or 6.

This was in 1911. In 1912, the number of women fliers had been augmented to two. The second was Harriet Quimby, who was killed in Boston that year.

Miss Scott, in the air at the same time, go down all right, and promptly was invited by Mayor Fitzgerald to call on him. The Mayor seized on the occasion to upbraid her before the assembled newspaper men, declaring women lacked the tact, nerve, and judgment to fly.  Miss Scott never forgot that.

Earhart the Answer.

"The answer, she said, "is Amelia Earhart. And I wonder if Fitzgerald ever took time to go to Cleveland for the Powder Puff Air Derby?"

Miss Scott disployed one of the first pieces of air mail.  It was a card postmarked January 28, 112, with her picture on it. She had mailed it to her mother in Rochester.

Although the air holds no terrors for her, she revealed that until Monday she had never made a trip in one of the big transport planes.

"It wasn't that I was afraid," she explained. "Far from it. But I thought when I got into one of those things I would have to back-seat drive. It's like a car. You see a chicken or something run across the road, and you wonder if the driver sees it too. You kind of want to grab the wheel."

Actually, she slept an hour en route.

A Dud at Physiography Gets Medal for Covering Ground

Harold Weigand, 17, whose strong legs cover the land faster than those of most Bronx school boys, flunked the course in physiography at Monroe High School, but:–

Weigand, John McLoughlin, 17, and Milton Mehlman, 18, were presented today with the first gold medals awarded by the Police Athletic League. They got the medals for sprinting after a hold-up man and capturing him.

And young Weigand, a swift runner over the land, lost out in physiography because he had to spend so much time out of school in relation to the capture.

The three boys were walking in St. Ann's Ave., the Bronx, after winning honors at a track meet in September, 1936, when they saw Milton Lefkowitz run from a store after assaulting and attempting to rob a merchant.

The medals were presented in the office of District Attorney Samuel J. Foley, who said:–

"There would not be a racket in New York State for more than twenty-four hours if the citizens would co-operate with the police and the District Attorney's office by coming forward and showing the same courageous spirit that you boys showed in capturing this hold-up man."

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