Friday, October 1, 2010
Ruth Elder Gallery - Ruth in 1927
Ruth Elder, October-1927.
When Charles Lindbergh made his crossing from New York to Pairs, Ruth Elder was 23 years old, and making her living as an actress. Inspired by Lindbergh, she decided she wanted to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.
She had a handful of competitors. She herself knew how to fly, but had not yet acquired a pilot's license.
She aquired a Stinson "Detroiter" airplane, which she named "American Girl". Sge cgise a co-pilot, George Halderman, who flew the plane on take off from Roosevelt Field, Long Island.
Elder said, "On October 11, 1927 in spite of bad weather, we took off. The American Girl carried 520 gallons of fuel, enough for 48 hours of flying time." Lindbergh made the flight in 21 hours, 40 minutes, so Elder believed the American Girl would make it even if they ran into worse weather conditions.
The American Girl flew for 28 hours through storms during most of the trip over the Atlantic. Unfortunately, a severe oil leak forced them to ditch into the ocean. Since the plane's course had been charted near the active shipping lanes, a Dutch oil tanker soon came across them.
They received a tumultuous welcome in Paris, and again in New York.
Elder continued flying and in 1929, she came in fifth in the first Women's Air Derby (more famously known as the Powder Puff Derby). She then retired from aviation and went on to become a successful Hollywood actress. She was married 6 times.