After reading my book, Shooting Star about my aunt, Mildred Doran and her quest to be the first woman to reach Hawaii by air, a friend sent me an article from Garden and Gun magazine. (I’m not kidding.) The article written by Winston Groom, the author of Forest Gump, recounts the story of Paul Redfern, a pilot from South Carolina, who attempted to fly from Brunswick, Georgia to Rio de Janeiro. His flight began August 25, 1927, just a few days after my aunt’s fateful flight. Unlike my aunt, Redfern has not been forgotten. Each anniversary of his quest, a group of admirers from his hometown Columbia, SC, gather to remember him. This year, the 85th anniversary of his attempt, a special celebration is being sponsored by Historic Columbia Foundation. There will be some talks about Redfern (including by Warner Montgomery, PhD who is writing a book), a tour of sites connected to Redfern, and the annual toast to his memory. I have been asked to say a few brief words about Mildred Doran to the gathering. I am so pleased that Redfern’s hometown has continued to honor his memory. Mildred is remembered in her hometown sporadically by the Flint Journal, but despite my urging there has been no community event scheduled there. I am hoping that by next year I can persuade an organization or bookstore to begin such a tradition. If any of you in the Flint area that also feel there should be an event, please contact me with your thoughts.
Tonight, August 19, the Discovery Channel will carry its first program showing TIGHAR’s underwater search for Amelia Earhart. The tease is that they may have found something. Recent news reports have hinted that a “debris field” was found on the ocean floor. It will take further exploration to determine just what is there. The disappearance of Amelia Earhart has been the subject of many books and speculation for the last 75 years. It is one of the mysteries that has sparked interest in the minds of adults and children that has never waned. It would be wonderful if we could find remains of her airplane. Finding any significant remains of her is impossible. But, I will be watching with interest. The program is on tonight at 10:00 EDT and also at midnight. I will be interested in the reaction to this show.
August 16 marks the 85th anniversary of the Dole Race, the first big air race in Aviation’s Golden Age. James Dole announced the race just four days after Charles Lindbergh successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean in May. He intended the $25,000 prize for successfully flying from California to Honolulu to go to Lindbergh, but Lindbergh had a celebratory world tour in mind that was far less dangerous and far more lucrative. As I recount in Shooting Star, eight planes lined up at Oakland for a noon start. 50,000 excited spectators lined the runway cheering successful takeoffs, but letting loose a chorus of “Ohhs” when the planes failed. If you are interested in aviation history, you will enjoy Shooting Star, which describes the beginning of aviation during the Roaring Twenties. At the time many vowed never to forget Mildred and the other Dole Racers, but sadly they have been forgotten. Shooting Star brings the fliers, all of them larger than life characters, back to life. You might want to check out the Kindle version which now sells for only $2.99.