WOW! Me…Flying the Plane
Vicky flew out of Palwaukee Field in 1932. I don’t know if she took lessons there airport. She was a member of the Aviation Country Club but my research said that The Aviation Club was at a different airport in the northern suburbs in the of Chicago. I really don’t know if any of this information is true. I wish I was there when she flew at Gauthier’s Flying Field located at the crossroads of Palatine Road and Milwaukee Avenue about eighteen miles from Chicago.
As of June 2017, there 194 planes at the Palwaukee including two jets like the Bombardier Challenger and the Gulfstream command and five helicopters. There are three fixed-based national operators…Signature Flight Support, National Global Aviation Services, and Atlantic. There are also smaller companies…Priester Air Charter and Palwaukee Flyers. A fixed-base operator offers services like fueling and flight instruction. Sometimes aircraft come to the airport when they bring military men to Great Lakes Naval Training Center and the Veterans Affairs hospitals in the Chicago area.
In 1953 George J. Priester developed the airport and owned it for 33 years. He installed paved runways, lighting, hangers and an air tower for air traffic control. In 1900 I met with George’s son Charles. It was my first in person interview and I don’t remember. I haven’t interviewed anyone since college. I had many questions prepared even though I wasn’t a pilot. I was just excited the to see planes take off and land. I was more focused on that then asking questions. Crazy, I guess…but that’s me.
George Priester died in Des Plaines and is survived by many grand children and great=grandchildren. I live near that community and I will let you know any more information I might find out.
About five years ago I went to the airpot to see a group called Young Eagles where they received a free flight. Young Eagles is found at airports all over the country. It is sponsored by The Experimental Aviation Association. “Sully” Sullenberger, John Travolta and Harrison Ford were former chairmen of the Young Eagles.
I was too late to see the kids take off and land. I felt disgusted but I hung around and talked to a few people. country kids receive free flight lessons.. I wish I was one of those kids and could join this fabulous group.
Maybe, you are wondering why I am telling you about the history of Palwaukee Airport. It makes me recall my memories connected with the airport. One memory was that my brother, Bruce took flying lessons at the airport. I remember my mom drove him to the airport before he could drive. He told me that his interest in aviation started when he went up in a neighbors plane. He took lessons at Palwaukee with Sally’s Fling School. Sally Strempel was a pioneer in aviation and The Federal Aviation Administration appointed her as one of five women flight instructors in the country. She claimed that “she flew that she flew over a million miles without scratching an airplane.”
Sally Strempel, a resident of Des Plaines, Ilinois and died in 2017. I will try to find more information about Ms. Stempel and her flying experiences in World War 11 and at Palwaukee Airport.
Bruce worked at Sikorsky which is a well-known name in aviation. The company focused on the manufacturing of land planes and amphibious aircraft and invented the first practical helicopter.
Then Bruce worked at Boeing for more than 40 years. Now he is retired and volunteers as a docent and a researcher at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
The helicopter makes me think of more family lore about Vicky. I don’t know if the following information is true or not. Vicky flew an auto gyro… the precursor to a helicopter. Did she fly it at Palwaukee …who knows.
My brother asked me what wanted for my birthday. You can guess my answer. I told him I wanted an introductory flight lesson from Windy City Flyers Flight School. I was so excited when the pilot showed me the Chicago Skyline and then went over the far north suburbs. I took this lesson a long time ago but it feels like yesterday. I sat in the co-pilot’s seat and really flew the plane. I mean the pilot flew it.
Another memory: I brought my first computer and it took me three months to decide what to buy. When I took my flying lesson I didn’t ask ANYTHING. I didn’t know or care what was the name of the pilot or what was his experience. I JUST JUMPED INTO THE PLANE AS IF I HAD FLOWN ALL MY LIFE.
After this flight I decided to ask about flying lessons. I went to Palwaukee and talked to a salesperson even though I knew I didn’t have the money. I was thrilled to hear the information and went home with dreams in my mind and heart. My brother thought I was crazy to bother anyone. I disagreed.
I thought if I couldn’t take lessons I would still do the next best thing. I would learn how to fly…only on the ground. I meet a lady who worked at Windy City Flyers and asked her how I could accomplish this goal. She was kind to loan me VHS tapes which would teach me the basics of flight. I didn’t understand the tapes but I keep watching them. I returned the tapes and wondered how to learn more. Then I decided to learn from childrens books on flight.
After this I joined a group called PACE at Palwaukee. It was a liaison group between the airport and the surrounding communities. I felt so important even though I only went to a few meetings.
Then I went to Palwaukee to see the The Young Eagles. At Palwaukee and many other airports across the country kids receive free flight lessons. The group is sponsored by The Experimental Aviation Association. “Sully” Sullenberger, John Travolta and Harrison Ford were former chairmen of the Young Eagles. Unfortunately, I was too late to see the kids take off and land. I was so disappointed but I stayed around and talked to a few people and wished that I was one of those kids.
On May 8, 2017 Chicago Executive Airport was received the honor of being named the Reliever Airport of the Year. A Reliever Airport is a designation by the FAA. It is an airport that doesn’t have scheduled airline passenger service. It helps take traffic away from crowded airports like O’Hare in Chicago.
You can see how my interest has continued. I read books about aviation and even wear aviation themed clothing. I plan to go to Palwaukee and relive my memories at the end of the month and take a tour of the airport. I’ve taken it before but I plan to go again…only this time with a walker. Why not go…difficult probably…SO WHAT! Anything for my passion. I wish Bruce were here to go with me but it’s a long walk from Seattle. None of my friends are remotely interested in planes but maybe I can talk one into taking me…or I’ll just go by myself.
Today I called Palwaukee and asked if the the women I meet still works at Windy City Flyers. Bingo…she does and I got her email. I’m going to email her and see if she remembers me. I think that would be so cool. Never know.
I also called the airport and left a voice mail asking about PACE and if Michael Haupt was still a volunteer withe this group.. See, they have nothing to do but answer my rambling voice mail. I’ll let you know if any of these mysteries get solved.
On May 8, 2017 The Department of Transportation named Chicago Executive Airport as the Reliever Airport of the Year. A Reliever Airport is one that doesn’t have regular passenger service. It helps take traffic away from large airports like O’Hare and Midway.
On the Chicago Executive on the Internet I can listen to the control tower. I feel like I’m there! Fun is different for everyone… for me it’s airplanes and airports.
Friends ask me if I love aviation and the answer is yes. I say it’s a family thing and it’s MY THING!
I hope you have enjoyed traveling along memory lane with Vicky, Bruce and Me….
Wishing You Blue Skies and Calm Winds.