Ontario couple made flying WWII aircraft a family affair – Press Enterprise – California News Times


Twelve years after taking a flight lesson from a man who later became her husband, Esther Geber Nelson flew a B-25 bomber and a P-51 Mustang nationwide in World War II.

Nelson was one of the first members of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferry Squadron, who played an important role in transporting military aircraft nationwide during the war and freeing male pilots for combat missions.

Her husband, Arthur C. Nelson, flew like a 43-year-old lieutenant in the Army, and the work of the war turned out to be a family problem.Before the war, the couple owned today’s flight school Ontario International Airport..

Born in Kern County and graduated from Los Angeles High School, Esther Nelson was fascinated by flight at the age of 21 after taking lessons from Arthur Nelson in North Hollywood in 1930.

Their mutual interest in aviation led to their marriage in 1936 in Yuma, Arizona. Even honeymoons were centered around flight. They bought a new plane in New York, but on their way to visit Arthur’s parents the next day, the engine broke down and crashed. No one was injured, but it added a pretty memorable moment to their trip.

In 1938, they opened the Nelson Flying Service at a small Ontario Municipal Airport, where they trained many leaflets. About 300 of them later flew toward the army during the war. During that time, Esther continued to improve her flight skills and became one of the 10 women nationwide certified as a flight instructor in 1941.

However, after Pearl Harbor sent the country into war, Nelson decided not to spend World War II as a spectator. They immediately sold the flight school facility to Chaffey College and used it on an aviation course.

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Arthur joined the Army Air Transport Command in Long Beach and later served in Dallas. Esther, 33, was invited to join the Women’s Auxiliary Ferry for her instructor qualifications and 532 hours of flight time.

She was one of the first 28 people to undergo a four-week training session in Newcastle, Delaware, and was employed as a civil servant for $ 3,000 a year, but was ready to serve the military. Esther will eventually be trained to fly 11 different US aircraft, from small trainers to large multi-engine aircraft, by ferry to where they will be shipped from the aircraft factory for service in Europe or the Pacific. I carried it.

But it wasn’t easy for female pilots who faced constant prejudice from people who didn’t want to believe that women would be as good a flyer as men.

Two of WAFS’s most experienced pilots, Esther’s colleagues, were preparing to fly a B-17 bomber from Maine to Labrador and carry it across the Atlantic to England. General Henry “Happ” Arnold ordered him to leave the plane and replace it with a man immediately after hearing that the plane was being flown by two women. During the war, women were limited to domestic flights.

News articles at the time about women’s leaflets were usually strapped in a vulgar tone, referring to attributes other than flight skills. “Trim, well-shaped, photogenic” was their description in a September 28, 1942 article in Los Angeles Daily News. The article labeled them “Ladybugs”.

When Esther and several other pilots delivered the aircraft in North Carolina that November, Charlotte News said they were “homosexual in society because of the risky attempt to fly a newly completed plane around the country. I left the life of the person. ” She was featured in an article in the Los Angeles Times on January 10, 1943, and the flyers for her and her associates were collectively referred to as “girls.”

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And then there was the problem of logistics. “We were the first to join the coed barracks,” recalls Delphine Bohn, a member of the Dallas Women’s Auxiliary Ferry Squadron. “We were John’s users who were protected by armed (security). Needless to say, we didn’t have a handkerchief.”

By early 1944, the Women’s Air Force Service Pilot Program had transported approximately 70% of domestic single-engine and twin-engine aircraft. All women were instrument-flight certified and most were trained in twin-engine and fighter aircraft. However, in 1944, a year after the end of the war, the WASP program was abruptly abolished, despite calls for continuation. A male pilot who was injured or completed a combat mission was aboard a ferry plane.

Esther returned to Southern California, and after the war ended, she and Arthur divorced. She later became Captain of the Air Force Reserve Command and was given veteran status in 1977.

She married Emerson Carpenter in 1965 and spent most of her life in Laguna Hills. She died on February 21, 1991 and was buried in the Riverside National Cemetery.

The article “Women With Silver Wings,” written in 1978 for the 99s newsletter, an organization of women’s flyers dating back to Amelia Earhart, holds the belief that men will eventually embrace the skills of women’s flyers. Provided.

“It was time for the male pilot to admit that the aircraft did not know that the woman was flying after the first” shock “to see the woman get off the chase or bomber. It was a problem. “

Classic car

Route 66 The 10th Kukamonga Classic Car Show by the Inland Empire California Association will take place on October 16th from 9am to 2pm.

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The event is free for spectators and is 8318 Foothill Blvd in Rancho Cucamonga. It will be held at Sycamore Inn in. Admission is $ 45.

The top 12 winners will be photographed for use in the association’s 2022 calendar. To register: www.route66ieca.org/events..

The event also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the adjacent Red Hill Country Club. Designed by golf course architect George C. Thomas Jr., the club opened in 1921.

Joe Blackstock writes about the history of the Inland Empire. He can be contacted at joe.blackstock@gmail.com or Twitter @ JoeBlackstock. Check out some of the past columns on Facebook’s Inland Empire Stories at www.facebook.com/IEHistory.

Ontario couple made flying WWII aircraft a family affair – Press Enterprise Source link Ontario couple made flying WWII aircraft a family affair – Press Enterprise



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