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Millie Carlson

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Sat Feb 02, 2019 2:14 am

This week, aviation lost one of its early pioneers - Millie Carlson.

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Millie will be missed.
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Re: Millie Carlson

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Sat Feb 02, 2019 2:56 am

In her book 'The Hard Way', Millie Carlson wrote:
The recommended careers for women in my family were limited to teacher, secretary, nurse and wife. I did not like any of these choices but found nursing the least objectionable. After reading many books about nursing, I discovered a nurse could branch off into other careers, such as stewardess, which seemed like a lot more fun than just being a nurse. I decided that flying around the country on airliners would be the most excitement any job could offer -- until I saw a movie about para-nurses. Jumping out of planes sounded even more exciting and I soon forgot all about being a stewardess.

One beautiful autumn afternoon, I embarked on what proved to be the most important day of my life. No, I didn’t discover boys -- I discovered airplanes. Thus began my love affair with aviation, which has remained steadfast for over 50 years.

On that serendipitous afternoon, I was pedaling my bike along a country road when I happened to notice a large billboard that had a picture of a kid standing next to a Piper Cub. It stated, "YOU TOO CAN LEARN TO FLY." The kid pictured happened to be a boy, but that didn’t deter me because I felt sure they would teach girls too. With my curiosity piqued, I kicked the bike into afterburner and roared off down the road to the airport. My skidding turn into the parking lot threw pebbles and dirt about six feet. When the dust settled, I pedaled down the line of parked planes at a more sedate pace. At the far end of the flight-line was a large red hangar. I leaned my bike against it directly under a sign that read: "FLIGHT SCHOOL."

As I walked inside the hangar, I saw a tall skinny guy in a leather jacket talking to two young boys. The fledgling aviators were hanging on his every word. I figured the guy in the leather jacket must be a flight instructor. For the most part, he ignored me.

When he finally condescended to look my way, he asked what I wanted. I pointed to the sign and questioned,   “You mean me?”

    “How old are you kid?”
    “I’ll be 16 tomorrow.”
    “Come back tomorrow.”

The next day, I emptied my piggy bank of its entire contents of five dollars and two cents, hoping that was sufficient for one lesson. I jumped on my bike and pedaled to the airport at warp speed. Skidding to a stop under the FLIGHT SCHOOL sign, I bounded into the office and told the secretary I wanted to take flying lessons. She signed me up with Norm, the instructor I talked to the previous day.

He took me out to the ramp where I met the love of my life – a lemon yellow J3 Cub that had a cute little bear decal on the tail and a black lightening bolt running down the fuselage. Norm explained how the aircraft controls worked, gave me a brief description of the maneuvers we would practice, and suddenly I found myself flying off on my first grand adventure. Ten minutes into the flight, he asked if I had any questions.

    “Yeah, Can we do a loop?”

    “Is your safety belt fastened?”

Before I could answer, the plane assumed an inverted attitude. Wow! That exciting maneuver ‘hooked’ me. If that was what flying had to offer, I knew I would love it. I also knew I would want to do a loop every time I went flying. On my next flight, the chief instructor flew with me and he soon let me know that he had no intention of doing loops.

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"History is never recorded by truth never told." - Warren ("Free")
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Re: Millie Carlson

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Sat Feb 02, 2019 3:29 pm

This is Millie signing a copy of her book for another young female pilot in 2013:

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Join a National Hang Gliding Organization: US Hawks at ushawks.org
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"History is never recorded by truth never told." - Warren ("Free")
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Re: Millie Carlson

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Sat Feb 02, 2019 3:30 pm

Millie at the aerospace museum in 2013:

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Join a National Hang Gliding Organization: US Hawks at ushawks.org
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"History is never recorded by truth never told." - Warren ("Free")
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Re: Millie Carlson

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:40 pm

Millie was among my friends on the day of my first flight at Torrey Pines:

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Alan, Lee, Dennis, Millie, Bob, Theda
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Alan Chuculate (far left) was my friend, instructor, and mentor.

This is Millie and Alan's niece Theda at Torrey Pines Gliderport.
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Millie and Alan's niece Theda
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Join a National Hang Gliding Organization: US Hawks at ushawks.org
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"History is never recorded by truth never told." - Warren ("Free")
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Re: Millie Carlson

Postby wingspan33 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:11 pm

It's sad to hear of her passing. I've been looking for a woman like her (closer to my age) since I started hang gliding. Bob, do you know when Millie was born?
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Re: Millie Carlson

Postby majiemae » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:52 pm

Here is Bob's talk about Millie at the San Diego City Council

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