Recently, Stuff Mom Never Told You listener Danielle brought a name to my attention I’d never heard of before: “My boyfriend was telling me about one of his ancestors the other day – Pearl Carter Scott. She is Native American and female and was the youngest licensed pilot in American history.”
Although Pearl is neither mentioned in the Women in Aviation Hall of Fame, nor name-checked among Smithsonian magazine’s Most Famous Female Aviators, she’s well known among her Chickasaw tribe in Oklahoma. In September 1929, Carter is said to have become the youngest solo pilot in U.S. history at that time, steering a Curtis Robin aircraft into the sky by herself at just 13 years old (although another source puts her at 12 years old when she made the flight). Having obtained her pilot’s license, Carter pursued a brief career as a stunt pilot.
According to her biography, Scott was trained by the famed Wiley Post who was also from Oklahoma and in 1931, set a world record for flying around the world. But profiles of the aviator who died tragically in a plane crash with performer Will Rogers in 1935 fail to mention his influential, though brief, relationship with Scott. Nonetheless, the aviatrix, who died in 2005, has been immortalized with a portrait that now hangs in the Oklahoma capitol building commemorating her unsung achievement.
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