This week, April 8, marks the 121st birthday of early aviator Blanche Stuart Scott (April 8, 1889-January 12, 1970).
You've probably seen those T-shirts and bumper stickers, the ones that say, "Well-behaved women seldom make history." (Credit to Laurel Thatch Ulrich.) Blanche Stuart Scott never saw those words. But she lived them.
I fell in love with Blanche's story when I researched a picture book on her (THE DAY BLANCHE WENT FLYING, available). Blanche grew up in an era when "well-behaved" pretty much summed up all a girl was expected to be. And she was anything but. As a child she loved to perform tricks on her bike just as the boys in the neighborhood did, and she held nothing back. She crashed seven bikes in practice, prompting her father to refuse to buy her another. Instead, when she was thirteen, he bought her a car. She proceeded to scandalize the neighborhood with her less-than-well-behaved driving.
She challenged tradition when, as an adult, she became the first woman car salesperson in the United States. She challenged aviation great Glenn Curtiss by foiling his attempts to keep her on the ground and becoming the first woman in the U.S. to fly an airplane (though she never obtained her license). Later, she became the first woman stunt pilot, the first woman test pilot, and the first American woman to ride in a jet. She raised eyebrows every time.
Blanche knew first hand that if you want to be a daredevil, first you have to dare.
Gotta go misbehave.