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Blanche Noyes

Blanche Noyes
Noyes-Blanche 01.jpg
Noyes c. 1930
BornJune 23, 1900
DiedOctober 6, 1981(1981-10-06) (aged 81)
Spouse(s)Dewey Noyes (c. 1900 – 1935)

Blanche Noyes (June 23, 1900 – October 6, 1981) was an American pioneering female aviator who was among the first ten women to receive a transport pilot's license.[1][2] In 1929, she became Ohio's first licensed female pilot.[2]


She was born Blanche Wilcox on June 23, 1900 in Cleveland, Ohio.[2] She gave up her acting career[3] after marrying pilot Dewey L. Noyes (c. 1900 – 1935).[4]

She started flying in 1929 after getting a lesson from her husband.[1] She soloed on February 15 after four hours of training and received her pilot's license in June of the same year.[2][3]

Noyes entered the inaugural Women's Air Derby in August 1929, one of twenty competitors attempting to fly from Santa Monica, California to Cleveland.[5] Along the way, she "narrowly escaped death when her plane caught fire in mid-air near Pecos."[6] She set down so hard her landing gear was damaged.[6] She put out the fire, made repairs and resumed the race.[6] She placed fourth in the heavy class.

She was a demonstration pilot for Standard Oil in 1931 and flew with various organizations until her husband died in a crash in 1935.[3][4]

In 1936, she teamed up as co-pilot to Louise Thaden (a fellow 1929 Women's Air Derby competitor) and won the Bendix Trophy Race in the first year women were allowed to compete against men. They set a new world record of 14 hours, 55 minutes flying from New York City to Los Angeles, California, in a Beech C17R Staggerwing biplane. Laura Ingalls came in second by 45 minutes flying a Lockheed Orion.[7][8]

While living in Irvington, New Jersey, Noyes became a member of the Women's Advisory Committee on Aeronautics. In August 1936, she was among a handful of leading aviatrices to join the Air Marking Group of the Bureau of Air Commerce, funded by the Works Progress Administration.[1][3] The group's objective was to aid aerial navigation by writing the name of the nearest town at 15-mile (24 km) intervals, on the roofs of prominent buildings if possible, on the ground in white paint when not.[9] With America's entry into World War II in December 1941, however, for security reasons the Noyes team had to black out the roughly 13,000 sites they had marked.[9][10] After the war, as head of the air marking division of the Civil Aeronautics Administration, she oversaw their restoration and added further navigational aids.[9] According to the National Air and Space Museum, "For many years, she was the only woman pilot allowed to fly a government aircraft."[3]

She also wrote numerous newspaper and magazine articles.[3]

She died on October 6, 1981, in Washington, D.C.[2][11]

Noyes was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1970.[2] She was the first woman awarded a gold medal by the Commerce Department, for 35 years of government service improving air safety.[3][12]


  1. ^ a b c "Mrs. Noyes Gets Air Post. Irvington Woman Is Appointed Federal Marking Pilot". The New York Times. August 14, 1936. Retrieved 2011-11-15. Mrs. Blanche Noyes of Irvington, N.J., was appointed today an air-marking pilot for the Bureau of Air Commerce by Eugene L. Vidal, the director. Mrs. Noyes has been flying since 1929 and was one of the first ten women pilots to receive an air transport license.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Deaths Elsewhere: Blanche Noyes". Toledo Blade. October 8, 1981.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Women in Aviation and Space History: Blanche Noyes". National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Dewey Noyes Dies in Crash". Youngstown Vindicator. December 12, 1935. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
  5. ^ Jessen, Gene Nora (1999). "1929 Air Race". 99 News magazine. Ninety-Nines.
  6. ^ a b c "Girl Flier Fights Blaze in Air". Pittsburgh Press. August 22, 1929.
  7. ^ "Bendix Trophy". Air Racing History. Retrieved 2011-11-15. The other east to west race, that of 1936, was strictly a 'ladies' day' affair and the slowest of all the Bendix contests. Louise Thaden with Blanche Noyes as her co-pilot flew a stock model Beechcraft biplane into the winner’s circle in less than 5 minutes under 15 hours. ...
  8. ^ "Louise Thaden Wins Bendix Air Trophy. With Mrs. Blanche Noyes She Also Breaks Women's Transcontinental Record". The New York Times. September 5, 1935. Retrieved 2011-11-15. Two veteran women pilots, Mrs. Louise Thaden of Bentonville. Ark., and Mrs. Blanche Noyes of Memphis, landed here this afternoon 14 hours 54 minutes 49 seconds out of Floyd Bennett Field, New York, to win one of the most famous events in aviation, the Bendix transcontinental derby. Between them they took first money of $4,500, plus $2,500 for a new ...
  9. ^ a b c Nobles-Harris, Ellen (2002). "Marking the Way". 99 News magazine. Ninety-Nines.
  10. ^ "Deletes Markers She Set For Pilots; Mrs. Blanche Noyes of CAA Has to Undo Safety Work to Bar Aid to Enemy". The New York Times. August 21, 1942. The irony of it all sometimes makes Mrs. Blanche Noyes chuckle, but she is going right ahead with her job of obliterating hundreds of the safety air markers she spent six years getting set up.
  11. ^ "Died". Time magazine. November 2, 1981. Retrieved 2011-11-15. Blanche Noyes, 81, Aviation Hall of Fame member who was a Broadway actress before dropping her stage career to fly planes in the early days of U.S. aviation; in Washington, D.C. A friend of Amelia Earhart's, Noyes took John D. Rockefeller for his only plane ride, in 1930. A stunt flyer, she also competed in numerous air races and was a co-winner with Louise Thaden of the grueling 1936 Bendix Trophy race.
  12. ^ "Blanche Noyes". Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2012.

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