Friday's Fabulous Flyer!
Barbara is a pilot, a wife, a mother an author... and boy does she have some stories to share. What an amazing woman, who is living life to the fullest! What happens when you live life on the fly? You have many stories to share.
"My involvement in aviation began some 41 years ago when a friend, knowing that I loved a challenge, suggested I take flying lessons. Flying? That was something I never considered and an activity totally out of my comfort zone but I was determined to try. Following three months of an overland trip to South America, I was signing up for an introductory lesson at our local airport. That initial flight was with Bill Barnes, Pancho’s son.
For the next several months, I was diligent – studied, past the written with flying colors, and finally soloed after 10X the required hours. It was an exciting time. The long cross-country left be confident that my goal was in reach. After failing my first check ride for lack of experience with night flying, I arrived at the airport every day after work for a week to prepare for a second try. Bill Barnes, who was always a little intimidating, remarked about my daily lessons. My reply, “I’m on a crash-course to learn how to fly.” That didn’t go over so well.
I did pass on my second try, met my husband just completing a ground-up restoration on a 1931 Stinson Jr., and began flying with him in my airplane, a 1950 Cessna 140A. My first flight with him made me realize that I knew little about flying. He would teach me and continues to do so.
In 1979, we purchased property in the Antelope Valley to create an airport on which to live. Our house is part of a two-story hangar which houses our airplanes which includes the 140A, a Beech 18, Bonanza V35, and a few others. And that Stinson – it was sold at auction and subsequently donated to a museum. Three years ago, our older son bought it and is now restoring it. Both sons grew up in that plane and it has many memories for all of us.
My career as an aviation historian began in 1989 after watching the Pancho Barnes story starring Valerie Bertinelli. Having strong connections with the Barnes family and knowing Pancho quite well, my husband suggested I should write her biography. I’d written travel articles years ago but here was another challenge. Seven years later, while raising the boys and working, the book was done. I loved the experience of interviewing pioneering pilots and friends of Pancho’s, some more ‘quirky’ than others.
I now have four books in print and a fifth nearly completed. The American Aviation Historical Society has published three of my articles in their journal – Elizabeth Ulysses Grant McQueen: Peace around the World for Peace, Prosperity, and World Friendship; Elvy Kalep: Estonian Aviatrix: and James Granger and the Pacific School of Aviation. I have consulted and taken part in three documentaries – The Happy Bottom Riding Club, Breaking through the Clouds, and The Katherine Cheung Story.
My boys always remind me that after that first book there were be no more. I seem to hear that often from them but there’s always another story to be told about the pioneer aviators and an almost forgotten age of aviation. Traveling the country and doing presentations about my books or other requested topics is more than a pleasure for me. It provides me with the opportunity to hear the stories of others and share with them excitement of those early days of flight. As for that fifth book, a biography on Clifford Henderson, I think it might be the last ‘huge’ project.
Barbara, keep writing
and sharing your love of Aviation!
"Life once lived are stories to be told."
You can find Barbara at
Enjoy the Journey!