Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ruth Law - a storyteller's story

The storyteller is Nancy Marie Payne (
For those who can't see the embedded video, here's a bit of info about Ruth Law:
Ruth Bancroft Law (1887 - 1970) was a pioneer aviatrix during the 1910s. She received her pilot's license in November 1912. Her brother was the famous parachutist & pioneer movie stuntman Rodman Law (1885-1919).

In 1915 she gave a demonstration of aerobatics at Daytona Beach before a large crowd. She announced that she was going to "loop the loop" for the first time, and proceeded to do so, not once but twice, to the consternation of her husband Charles Oliver.

In spring 1916 she took part in an altitude competition, twice narrowly coming second to male fliers. She was furious, determined to set a record that would stand against men as well as women.

Her greatest feat took place on 19 November 1916, when she smashed the existing cross-country distance flying record of 452 miles set by Victor Carlstrom by flying non-stop from Chicago to New York State, a distance of 590 miles. The next day she flew on to New York City with an Army lieutenant named Henry "Hap" Arnold as a passenger. Flying over Manhattan, her fuel cut out, but she coolly glided to a safe landing on Governors Island.

She was the toast of the city, President Woodrow Wilson attended a dinner held in her honour on 2 December 1916.

When the USA entered World War I in 1917, she campaigned unsuccessfully for women to be allowed to fly military aircraft. Stung by her rejection, she wrote an article entitled "Let Women Fly!" in the magazine Air Travel, where she argued that success in aviation should prove a woman's fitness for work in that field.

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