Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ruth Law, first of many record setting barnstormer pilots, bought her first airplane from the Wright Brothers

photo from http://steampunkvehicles.tumblr.com/  info from http://earlyaviators.com/eoliver.htm and http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/law.html

Ruth Law Oliver, the first woman to loop the loop in an airplane, the first to make a night flight and the one- time holder of the Chicago to New York aerial speed record bought her first airplane in 1912 from Orville Wright when she was 21 years old.  "I purchased a Wright biplane because it seemed to me they had the greatest success"

in 1912 she went to work as a commercial pilot, flying passengers to and from the Sea Breeze Hotel, in Florida.

From that time she proceeded to pile up new records in flying and was the outstanding woman barnstormer of her era. She was so successful that, in 1917, she earned as much as $9,000 a week for exhibition flights.

In 1917, Miss Law was the first woman authorized to wear a military uniform at America's entry into World War I. She applied to the United States Army to fly combat missions, when she was turned down she wrote an article for Air Travel ("Let Women Fly!") that inspired many future women aviators. She was told that she could do a lot of good just by teaching others to fly. (Sexism is such bs)

She was sent to Europe - directly to the battle fronts in order to gain first hand knowledge of the actual fighting. She returned fired with enthusiasm, and enlisted in the U.S. Aviation Corps, as a recruiting officer. Her efforts were responsible for recruiting many of our fighter pilots.

While doing this important war work, Miss Law found time to break a few records on her own. In 1916 she set the world's altitude record of 11,200' at sheepshead Bay, N.Y. In the same year she flew 511 miles non-stop, from Chicago to Hornell, N.Y.. then on to New York City in 8 hr. 55 min. 25 sec. using a Curtis bi-plane.

She carried the first official air mail to the Philippine Islands in 1919

After the war, there came the Ruth Law Flying Circus, a three plane troupe that left crowds at state and county fairs astonished. She flew her old Curtiss plane, with Wright controls, and the two male pilots flew Jennys in close formation with her 25 feet above racing cars on county tracks.

Wilbert Robinson, manager of the Dodgers went down in baseball lore for his attempt to catch a ball dropped from an airplane. In 1908, Gabby Street had caught a ball dropped from the Washington Monument. Robbie scoffed that this was all that difficult a feat and so Ruth Law, a famous aviatrix, was enlisted to fly a plane higher than the Washington Monument and drop a ball for Robbie to catch.

 When Robinson, now 53 years old, caught the object he saw falling from the plane, he was splattered with warm juice from a grapefruit. The impact knocked him to the ground whereupon he exclaimed: "Help me, lads, I'm covered with my own blood."

Law explained that she had forgotten the baseball back in her hotel room and when she discovered the situation it was too late to retrieve the ball. So she took a grapefruit from the lunch of one of the ground crew and dropped it instead

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