Ruth Bancroft Law

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“Ruth Bancroft Law.” Courtesy of The Portal to Texas History.

Though Ruth Bancroft Law accomplished many things during her career as an aviatrix, one of her greatest achievements was setting the cross-country distance record for an American non-stop flight. In November 1916, she flew from Chicago to Hornell, New York. The feat was a dangerous one. She had to modify her plane, by removing the lights and other parts, in order to carry extra fuel.  While seated in her plane, Law was exposed to the elements on three sides, requiring her to wear four woolen and leather suits for protection.

Law had initially tried to purchase a larger plane for the trip, but was denied by the manufacturer (and Blanche Stuart Scott’s flight instructor), Glenn Curtiss. He said a bigger plane was “too much for a girl to handle.” She subsequently proved him, and all other doubters, wrong.

Ruth Bancroft Law went on to achieve many aviation accomplishments and challenge misconceptions along the way. She became the first woman to carry official air mail to the Philippine Islands. She worked as a flight instructor, and organized a barnstorming group called the “Ruth Law Flying Circus.” On another flight, she flew around the Statue of Liberty, spelling “Liberty” in the air with her plane.