Motor Car in Contest of Speed with Airplane

At the Canadian National Exhibition in 1918, the daring aviatrix Ruth Bancroft Law, flying a Curtiss Pusher, took on a Duesenberg driven by racecar driving champion Gaston Chevrolet.

Here's how it went down:

Of note, 100 years ago today, Law—alternately known as Mrs. Charles Oliver—flew her Curtiss Pusher non-stop from Chicago, Illinois to Hornell, New York, a distance of 590 miles, shattering the previous long distance flight record of 452 miles.

She was greeted by marching bands, garrisons on parade and a crowd of fifty newspaper reporters, one of whom asked, "You have made the longest flight a woman ever made, haven't you?" She replied, "I have made the longest flight an American ever made." President Wilson would call it, "the greatest flight ever made in America," adding that Law was "a great little flier."

Law went on to break more records, including, in 1919, altitude (14,700 feet), and earned as much as $9,000 a week for exhibition flights, In 1920, at age 32, she retired from aviation. Why? "Because I'm a normal woman and want a home, a baby, and everything else that goes with married life," she said. "Why, I've been married for almost 10 years to Charlie Oliver, the man who has managed my exhibitions, and scarcely anyone knew who he was. And the poor boy was so worried about me all that time that every time I went up he lost a pound. Of course, I'm just crazy about flying, but one's husband is more important."

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