When thinking about famous American women aviators, many people immediately think of Amelia Earhart. While she was an outstanding woman, many other women made history while flying planes that often get overlooked.
Ruth Law Oliver was an aviator who accomplished many “firsts” when she flew planes in the 1910s.
Ruth was born in Massachusetts in 1887. Her brother was stuntman Rodman Law, who appeared in movies and was also a parachutist. Rodman’s skills inspired her, and he made her want to learn to fly.
She had received flying lessons from engineer Harry Atwood and pilot Arch Freema but was interestingly turned down for lessons from Orville Wright, one of the inventors of the first motor-operated airplane. Although Ruth had purchased a plane from him, Orville believed women did not have the skill set to fly planes, which only made Ruth want to prove him wrong.
After briefly working as a mechanic, Ruth finally received her pilot’s license from the Burgess Flying School in 1912, making her the fifth woman in America to do so.
Three years later, in 1915, she was doing a flying demonstration for a large crowd in Daytona Beach, Florida, and announced she would do a “loop the loop.” As people watched in awe, Ruth looped her plane in the air and became the first woman to make an aerobatic loop.
Within a handful of years after getting her pilot’s license, Ruth entered a series of flying competitions. In 1916, Ruth went on a mission to break the cross-America flight air speed record.
That November 19th, she did and flew from Chicago to New York, a trip that was 590 miles long. When she completed her fascinating, record-breaking journey, President Woodrow Wilson held a dinner in her honor one month later.
During World War I in 1917, Ruth wanted to fly military aircraft, something women were not permitted to do at the time. She wrote petitions and passionate articles about how capable women were of operating planes, but unfortunately, she never got to serve. She did, however, become the first woman authorized to wear a military uniform.