Ruth Elder at the Int’l Women’s Air & Space Museum

I see the museum is having a presentation about Ruth Elder on Friday, April 25. If you are in the area (Cleveland) I recommend that you attend. She is one of the interesting characters in my latest book, 1927 A Brilliant Year in Aviation. Ruth started out in Lakeland, Florida, and while working as a dental assistant, learned to fly. She became an accomplished pilot. In 1927, she recruited a group of businessmen to purchase a plane for her and George Haldeman to attempt to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, about 3 months after Lindbergh had done it. She did not quite make it, but landed next to a freighter and was rescued. At the time, her flight was the longest by any woman. She attempted to find backers for a subsequent flight, but it never materialized. In the 1929 women’s race from Santa Monica to Cleveland she was fourth. Her second career was as a movie actress and in Hollywood fashion, she was married six times. There is a chapter in my book 1027 A Brilliant Year in Aviation on Ruth. You might want to look that over before attending the Museum’s presentation.


It strikes me that there are similarities in the way the press has been covering the search for the Malaysian Airliner and the search for the lost aviators in the Dole Race in 1927, which included my aunt, Mildred Doranscan0060_crop. When the Dole fliers disappeared on their way across the Pacific Ocean, there was immediate speculation as to where they were. Many thought they were on an island somewhere. Others thought they were floating in their aircraft on calm seas. After two days, reports came in to the anxious families that they were found safe on Maui. The report was completely fabricated. Back in 1927, the first two lost planes had no radio. The third had a radio and reported being in a tailspin shortly before it was lost. The U.S. Navy sent more than forty ships, including an aircraft carrier and a submarine out to search. After about 10 days, the search was abandoned. Some continued to hope they would be found even years later. In 2014, we have long range airplanes, radios, radar, satellites, black boxes, and transponders at the disposal of searchers. After a month there has been no sighting. The families of the passengers and crew were hopeful at first, but now there is a growing sense of dread. Despite all the modern electronics the plane is lost. Just like the case of the Dole racers, the Pacific Ocean is so vast that it can swallow a plane and not leave a trace..