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Tomboy of the Air: Daredevil Pilot Blanche Stuart Scott

by Julie Cummins

Published by HarperCollins, 2001
80 pages
ISBN: 0-06-029138-9

Ages 8 - 12

Pioneer aviator Blanche Stuart Scott once said of herself: "I always liked speed and I had a very good sense of balance." She also had an ample dose of daring and indulgent parents who encouraged her to pursue her interests from an early age: when, at 13, she had smashed up her seventh bicycle, her father refused to buy her another one. Instead, he bought her a Cadillac. The year was 1902 and there not yet any rules about driving, but Blanche's habit of speeding recklessly through the streets of Rochester, New York, inspired a special session of the Rochester City Council to see what they could do to "stop this child from driving." As a young woman, Blanche turned her interests from driving to flying. She trained with Glenn Curtiss, chief rival of the Wright Brothers, in a time when pilots flew not only to entertain the masses with dangerous stunts but also to help early aeronautical engineers perfect the flying machine. In the years that followed, she not only achieved a number of firsts which helped advance the art and science of flying, but also capably faced the constant barrage of social criticism and even several assassination attempts aimed at her as a woman in a male-dominated profession. Her sharp wit and spirited outlook are evident in the numerous direct quotes from her throughout Cummins' meticulously researched and well-documented text. Her aviation career, unfortunately, was grounded after a serious accident in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1913, which led to 41 broken bones and an eight-month recuperation. She went on to produce independent films and work as a screenwriter in Hollywood, returning to the air briefly in 1948 to set one more record as the first woman to fly a jet plane. This compelling biography of a courageous, independent, and intelligent woman will no doubt leave you wondering why Blanche Stuart Scott isn't a household name. CCBC categories: Biography and Autobiography; Historical People, Places, and Events.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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