Was my third brilliant aviator from the early 20th Century the first woman allowed to wear an NCO uniform? Of course she didn’t fight in battle and there were characters like Joan of Arc and Boadicea before her, leaders of war in their day, but nevertheless Ruth Bancroft was a strong willed lady who deserves to be remembered, despite the fact the it was her husband who put a stop to her flying exploits.
Here is Ruth’s story:
Ruth Bancroft Law 1887 – 1970 ‘Ruth Law’s Flying Circus’
Background and inspiration to fly ~ A student at a private academy in New Haven CT, Ruth Law saw her first plane in the sky and fell in love with the idea of flying.
Aviation achievements ~ She gained her pilots licence in 1912 and set the non-stop cross country record from Chicago to New York. It is also claimed that she was the first woman to do a loop the loop and to fly at night.
During WW1 she formed ‘Ruth Law’s Flying Circus’ to raise money for the Red Cross where cars raced aeroplanes and she flew through fireworks.
Notable difference ~ Due to her determination to contribute in a more substantial way to the war effort she was dismayed at the army’s rejection of her application to fly for them, but finally they allowed her to wear an NCO uniform whilst raising money for their cause. The first lady ever to do so.
The New York Governor chose Law to illuminate the Statue of Liberty which she circled three times with flares on the tips of her wings and a banner with the word ‘liberty’ on the fuselage.
It is strangely her husband who decided enough was enough, and put a stop to Law’s flying antics, by writing her notice of retirement in the newspaper in 1922!
Death ~Ruth Law died at the good age of 83 years.