Ruth Nichols

Ruth Nichols:

1st. airplane radio broadcast

Ruth Nichols was a pilot during the Golden Age of Aviation. She was named the”Flying Debutante” because of her wealthy upbringing. Her family disapproved of her interest in flying but she went ahead to earn a name for herself in aviation.                                                      Accomplishments:

  • Her first flight was in 1919 and through her career she flew more than 140 different planes. Ruth flew gliders, auto-gyros, transports, seaplanes and even biplanes. 
  • She was the first women to earn three simultaneous international records for distance, speed and altitude. 
  •  Flew in the First All Women Air Derby.
  • One of the first women to compete in the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race in 1931. 
  • Helped form the 99’s to support women in the field of Aviation
  • Co-founded the Aviation Country Club. She flew all over the country to publicize this unique place. The clubs were supposed to be in many different states but The Depression caused the demise of these clubs.
  • Developed Relief Wings… a humanitarian organization that used private planes to help with disaster and emergency work
  • Became a Lieutenant colonel in the Civil Air Patrol
  • Founded Sportsman Pilot magazine 
  • Round the world plane tour for UNICEF
  • First woman to land in all 48 contiguous states  

Ruth deserves to be more well known and that is my intention for all the women pilots that I profile. She never received the success of Amelia due to many crashes. She wanted to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic but she never fulfilled that wish. She believed that her failures were due to mechanical problems not her ability to control the plane. I hope that after you read this story you will be able to say There’s More Than Amelia. 

 Read more about Ruth Nichols unique life in her autobiography, Wings for Life: The Story of the First Lady of the Air.” The forward was written by Richard E. Byrd the American aviator and polar explorer. The book was published in in 1957 by J.B. Lippincott and is available on Amazon.

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More Facts About Vicky

unknown man …maybe on a ship that Vicky took to Europe.

My research said that Vicky was a bush pilot in Juneau. If she was she would have had a hard time. There were very few women pilots in the 30′ in the US let alone Alaska. I will write the Juneau Historical Society and see if they have any records about her. Other research said she was a waitress. Who knows. Another mystery about Vicky.

Vicky was a risk taker and courageous.  I think that she was not afraid of danger or the unknown. These were the character traits of other women pilots. Vicky took flying lessons at Roosevelt field and stayed the Roosevelt Field Hotel. It was a place for dancing in the huge ballroom. It’s funny but I can picture so much about Vicky but I wish that I had asked my parents about her. But that wouldn’t have worked. My mom really didn’t like her. At the hotel they could eat outside on warm sunny days. The eating area overlooked the field and they could watch the planes land and takeoff. Roosevelt Field was the most famous airfield and everything was made for the pilots safety. The field had asphalt runways so was the perfect place to learn to fly.

When women started flying in great numbers people wondered if flying was safe for women. Are they physically fit? Instructors wondered if women could learn because their lack of mechanical knowledge. Women learned to fly for sport. They believed, it was a wholesome sport and adventure. But others took the idea of flying as serious business. They wanted to learn. But after getting their license they were restricted in finding jobs. Most women ended up selling planes, or writing writing about planes. Maybe Vicky was one of the women who didn’t care what men thought. She just wanted to fly.

When her husband walked out on her Vicky reported Ward missing two years later in 1927. She looked for Ward on her own for 2 years because she didn’t want the publicity. When the police were alerted they tried to talk to Wards mother Mrs. Anna D. Lederer, his sister Catherine Durant…neither would give any information to the police. Vicky stayed temporarily at the Hotel Manager. Vicky didn’t want to live on the family’s charity but she sure changed her mind.
It was such a mystery where Ward was living but she was tired of looking for him. Vicky said “Now I am neither unmarried or married. (New York Times, April 4, 1927)
Ward wasn’t honest with his own wife. Now could he marry another woman and not give Vicky the courtesy of divorcing Vicky. She loved the parties the drinking, and the high life but she loved Ward more. Vicky made herself so sick that she couldn’t work and she didn’t know how she would survive. She decided that she had to accept the money from Wards family. It was then that she went traveling and then learned to fly. When the world was in crisis Vicky lived well.

 

The World of Aviation

If Vicky were really a bush pilot in Juneau she would have a hard time. There were very few women pilots in the 30′ in the US let alone Alaska. I am still waiting for a reply from the Juneau Historical Society.

Women weren’t as important as men in aviation? I think that Vicky fit the bill as a pilot. She was a risk taker and courageous. I never talked to her about her flying days but I think that she was not afraid of danger or the unknown.

The in picture so much about Vicky. I wish that I had asked my parents about her. But that wouldn’t have worked. My Mom really didn’t like her. My mom was very conservative not flamboyant like Vicky. Mom didn’t run around, didn’t drink and was a very quiet person. Vicky was just the opposite. She liked to have fun, drink and run around. Neither my mom or Vicky were wrong. It’s just they had different personalities. Vicky was always broke and Mom saved her money. When Vicky was broke she always came to my parents. They sort of had to rescue her over and over.

At the hotel they could eat outside on warm sunny days. The eating area overlooked the field and they could watch the planes land and takeoff. It must have been an exciting place to stay. It’s the kind of place I would love to be. It must have been a great place for people and plane watching

Roosevelt Field was the most famous airfield and everything was made for the pilots safety. It was the perfect place to learn to fly. The most famous pilots of the era trained at Roosevelt Field.

When women started flying in great numbers people wondered if flying was safe for women. Are they physically fit? Instructors were concerned that if women could learn because their lack of mechanical knowledge any one could learn. First, women learned to fly for sport. They believed, it was a wholesome sport and adventure . But others took the idea of flying as serious business. They wanted to learn. But after getting their license they were restricted in finding jobs. Most women ended up selling planes, writing about planes, and becoming airport hostesses. They just weren’t taken seriously.

Hollywood and aviation were quiet in tune. Stunt pilots were needed for films and Pancho Barnes, a woman pilot started the Motion Pictures Pilots’ Association in 1931. All of this aviation activity was booming during the Vicky learn to fly..

1931. No wonder She was attracted to this exciting life. Some of the early films with aerial scenes were “The Great Train Robbery”,”The ” were male stunt pilot Omer Locklear invented a move he called “the transfer,” in which a pilot changed from one plane to another midair. Other movies where stunt pilots were needed were Wings, Stranger than Fiction, Hell’s Angels, and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

After World War 1 pilots became barnstormers.

Vicky may have participated in the Century of Progress in Chicago. They had several air meets.

Flying for women was a release from the routine life of mother and wife.

Many films had aerial scenes where expert flying was needed.

When ward left Vicky she reported him missing 2 hours later in 1927. She looked for Ward on her own for 2 years because she didn’t want the publicity.
When the police were alerted they tried to talk to Wards mother Mrs. Anna D. Lederer, his sister Catherine Durant…neither would give any information to the police. Vicky stayed temporarily at the Hotel Manager.
Vicky didn’t want to live on the family’s charity but she sure changed her mind.
It was such a mystery where Ward was living.she was tired of looking for him. Vicky said “Now I am neither unmarried or married. (new York times April 4, 1927)
Ward wasn’t honest with his own wife. Now could he marry another woman and not give Vicky the courtesy of divorcing Vicky. She loved the parties the drinking, and the high life but she loved Ward more. Vicky made herself so sick that she couldn’t wòrk and she didn’t know how she would survive. She decided that she had to accept the money from Wards family. It was then that she went traveling and learned to fly.
When the world was in crisis Vicky lived well.