Question of the Week: Do you have any aviators in your tree? [closed]

+16 votes

imageDo you have any aviators in your family tree? Tell us about them with an answer below. You can also use the question image to share your answer with friends and family on social media.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (2.1m points)
closed by Eowyn Walker

103 Answers

+11 votes
My great grandfather, Capitan Peter William Rutherford served in the West Yorkshire Regiment. It is rumoured he served in the airforce RFC in WW1, France winning some type of medal.
by Anonymous Anonymous G2G6 Mach 6 (64.8k points)
If you go to the raf commands website you can check that. I did a lot of research for a Canadian author who was researching medals.

Thanks, Ann!
There should be a recommendation for him if you look on the National archives site. I can look if that would help


I have seen it before but counted it as nothing. Is it important?
First one should be the recommendation for the medal which will have the citation and more  details, last one is medal card which will list all his medals. Second one should give some details of his RFC career. So if I were you I would be very interested to  see all of them.



I'll ask on the RAF commands site whether anyone has any details of him but it is primarily a WW2 site.


Thanks, Ann! I am more used to South African, English research etc.
Actually the first one isn’t a recommendation. There ought to be one somewhere. I’ll see if I can search it out.


+14 votes

My husband was a C-141 pilot in the Air Force during the Vietnam era, and he also flew an HH-43 helicopter out of Phan Rang, Vietnam in 1970. His first cousin once removed, Jo Elizabeth Nelson, was married to four-star general, Jack J. Catton. General Catton is well known for flying the first B-29 across the Pacific to the Mariana Islands in 1944. This is a public domain photo of General Catton from Wikipedia.

by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (709k points)
Interesting! My brother-in-law was stationed in Phan Rang in 1970. He flew F-100s there for about 6 months. He boarded a transport plane going from Phan Rang to Da Nang on November 29, 1970. He was coming home. Unfortunately, the transport crashed in the jungles and he was killed!
Susan Ellen, my husband was at Phan Rang then, and he remembers it happening. That is so sad. Do you have a profile for him?
Yes, King-42781

Do you know if your husband remembers Jon King?
Yes, Susan Ellen, he looks very familiar to my husband. There were somewhere between 30 to 50 pilots there, and they always ate together. What a terrible loss.
This photo  Alexis is absolutely wonderful

What a good looking man

Thank you for sharing this wonderful photo
+12 votes

My Uncle Bud (Martin Anthonson) began flying in 1935, and in 1936 established Anthonson Airport, NY28, which was the second airfield in Onondaga County, New York.

His grass field was 1250 feet long, with a road at one end and a driveway through the middle. He and his sons were able to land and stop before getting to the driveway. His son ran a seaplane service in the Adirondacks, and Bud made a dolly and towed it down the field with his Farmall tractor for his son to take off. In 1950, he commuted to work via plane in the winter, putting on skis to take off in the morning and then changing to wheels to return home. He retired from flying by 1989, when he was honored by the FAA for his early aviation work.

Sign for Bud's Airport

Runway looking toward driveway in middle and road (before hill) on other end

by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (509k points)
That's neat, Kay!
+12 votes

My great uncle, Allan Meacham ( Meacham-1072 ) (1898 - 1968 )  was in the Royal Naval Air Service, and its successor, the Royal Air Force, in W W I. 

He later moved to Australia.

by Janet Gunn G2G6 Pilot (130k points)
+12 votes

I have an uncle, & some other relatives who have been associated with flying, but my personal favorite story is about a man who wanted to become an aviator, but never managed to achieve that goal.

My great-grandfather, Irvin John Koehnline, had a lifelong fascination with aviation. He had wanted to study flying & get a pilot's license, but was enlisted into the Army (1st Lt., 324th Field Artillery) for WWI before he could chase after that goal. At the close of the war, he entered into a program allowing American soldiers in France to study at the University of Paris, where he studied aerodynamics, in the hopes it might help him become a pilot.

Matriculation of I.J. Koehnline at the Univeristy of Paris, ca. 1919

However, when he returned home, I.J. never managed to realize his goal; he worked for a couple years as a lab assistant to a research metallurgist in Wheeling, WV, until the scientist died, I.J. got married & he took a job as a steel salesman for the Wheeling Steel Company. However, though he gave up on what had once been his dream, he still hoped he might be able to impart his love of flying on to his son, which is why, when my grandfather was less than two years old, I.J. had him taken up in an open-cockpit plane, which he believed & hoped might inspire his infant son with that love of flying. As you might expect, it had the opposite of the intended effect. My aunt still has the ticket stubs from the flight in a box somewhere, but she recently moved & I didn't want to burden her with asking if they could be scanned for me. I will get that done when I have the chance, though. 

by Thomas Koehnline G2G6 Mach 7 (75.9k points)
+11 votes

Grandfather Truslow was a US Navy Pilot just before and in the early years of WW II.  He survived a plane crash off the coast of San Diego, CA, in 1930 and participated in the record-breaking flight from San Diego to Pearl Harbor on September 6, 1938.

by Dorothy O'Hare G2G6 Mach 7 (78.8k points)
I wonder if he is any relation to my father’s family  Truslove. Way back around the 1600’s and earlier 1700’s our family name started to get misspelled as truslow among other misspellings, usually in Census records.

Anyhow, my dad was in the RAF but was too young to be participate during WWII. He became a private pilot and had a few of his own planes.

He participated in Air Rallies with many friends and they flew from Noth Canada to Venezuela and back. He always loved to do a little bit of aerobatics to scare some of my friends.

Eventually he had to take his plane in for standard government recall on a part on the propeller of his plane. The airport where he owned his hangar, didn’t do that type of repair, so he had to fly it to another airport about 3hr drive one way. He went and picked up his plane once ready. He wasn’t in the air more than 20 minutes and the propeller actually fell off the plane.  He was a smart man. He found a field and coasted it down until he landed, without a scratch or bruise. The plane needed major work though.

The plane was fixed and he went back nervously and took to the air again. Less than 5 minutes this time! The exact same thing happened! This time he wasn’t quite as lucky, the landing wasn’t as safe due to lack of space to put it down, but he did it. He came out sore, but not seriously hurt, and no cuts or breaks etc.

they took the plane back and rebuilt it, he went up, for what was supposed to be him picking it up. Instead he got inside and put a for sale sign inside.

It sold and is still flying regularly to this day.

My dad let his license expire, and moved far away.  About 15 years later he got the bug again,  but e had to start over again and take the pilot license over. He got 100% at the age of 76. He rented planes but it wasn’t as enjoyable as his nice aircraft he had. He flew for a couple years, then gave it up.

Not many pilots today get away with two crashes and walk away and fly again!

That’s my Dad for you!

Hi Elaine -

You dad sounds like an amazing guy!

My 5 G Grandfather, Thomas William Truslow was allegedly born in London circa 1720.  He emigrated to the colonies and married a second time in 1789 in St. Pauls Parish, King Georga, VA.  I've also seen it spelled "Truslove" in some of the earliest records.

If you have a GEDMatch number, my kit # is KG7212904.

+9 votes

My grandfather, Robert Hamel was an aviator during the second world war. He was a staff sargent for the US Air Corps (Later known as the US Air Force). He was decorated many times and earned medals such as The Good Conduct Medal with 5 Bronze Loops, American Campaign Medal, EAME Medal with silver star, the World War Two Victory Medal, the Korean Service Medal and more!

The birth of my mom clipped his wings, though. He had a private pilot's license and was flying the day she was born.

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (626k points)
edited by Chris Ferraiolo
+6 votes

Not aviators, but Duck Hunters!

Dr. C. W. Bryant, Bert Simmons and Ira Reives left Friday evening for Colusa and Glenn counties, where they will hunt ducks. They have engaged an airplane in advance. The airplane will scare up the ducks. The three will do the shooting.

October 16, 1920

by Lyn Gulbransen G2G6 Mach 4 (44.4k points)
edited by Lyn Gulbransen
That's funny! Thanks for sharing.
+11 votes

My dad was too young for WW2, he was in the RAF in the early 1950s as a medical officer but only 'real' pilots were allowed to fly. He always wanted to fly on a WW2 plane but couldn't find any way to do so.   Since 1972 the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum has restored 50 old planes. In conjunction with the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada airport they offer flights on these restored planes. In 2006 when my dad was starting to have significant mobility issues his children arranged a flight on a Lancaster bomber and he finally got his ride. This picture is a collage of the plane and my dad after he made it up the ladder. 


by M Ross G2G6 Pilot (512k points)
My Dad was in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II, also in a non-aviator role, and he had no ambition to be an aviator. He worked on the ground as a weather forecaster. During the war he did fly in World War II airplanes occasionally as a passenger, but he never talked about that as any kind of thrill. Glad your Dad got to achieve a bit of his dream!
+8 votes

No, there are no parachutists hanging from the trees in my yard. (I checked.) laugh

And no aviators in my family tree, either. My great-uncle trained as a balloonist in World War I, but I do not think he actually served.

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
I think the grand-unc qualifies!
+9 votes

I'm not a 100% sure that this really qualifies but this is my great grandfather with his one and only plane. His name was Fullerton George Gordon Armstrong but known as Gordon (Armstrong-17412).  He was an engineer and entrepreneur in Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire.   In 1910 he took to the air the first and last time.  He flew from Beverley's Westwood in a second-hand Bleriot  aircraft into which he had fitted a 25 h.p. Anzani engine. After crashing on its  first flight the tail wheel was later replaced by a Bleriot-type Bamboo tail-skid. Legend has it that everytime there was a loud bang in Beverley from then on, someone would say "Gordon Armstrong's crashed his plane again!"

Thanks to Damian Smyth for the picture. 


by Jutta Beer G2G6 Mach 4 (48.8k points)
edited by Jutta Beer
+8 votes
Lt. Col. Lorne Rodenbush served in Korea and was Canadian Observer to Viet Nam during the war., when over 30,000 Canadians volunteered to fight with the US.  He  was involved in helicopter training in Canada and personal pilot for the Prime Minister and the the Royal Family when in Canada. His profile is listed on Wikitree.
by Living L G2G6 Pilot (131k points)
edited by Living L
+7 votes
My Great Uncle Sgt.  Harold A. Shoe  3/31/1917 -10/13/1942  was with the 58th Bombardment Squadron (Light)  flew a Douglas A-20A
 Place of Death Hawaii.,  Cause of death Airplane Accident.  He and his half brother Orville Spencer  were  at Pearl Harbor living thru it,  but he was killed in training mission later where he was out of  Wheelers  air base.   Hew was with the Army Air Corp.  
He was temporarily buried  at Schofield Barracks prior to being moved to the National Memorial Cemetary of teh pacific in Hi.
by Stephen Tomaszewicz G2G6 Mach 1 (15.9k points)
+9 votes

Yes, a hobbyist aviator I guess you could say. When my son was in primary school he had to do a report on a relative and so picked my grandmother who was still living at that time. One of my favorite stories was of my grandfather [Candee-271], who died before my parents even were married, taking my grandmother out on a "date" in his bi-wing airplane. All the photos I have of him are a stern, hard-working man, cigarette in hand and the image I have of them as a couple is no-nonsense, him being of English colonial heritage and her German-from-Russia stock. To think of them flying through the air, laughing together... :)

by Sharman Rice G2G1 (1.2k points)
+7 votes

My Uncle, Gordon Anderson (Anderson-48530) was the Navigator of a RAF Lancaster Bomber during WW2.
He was actually in the RCAF, but due to being stationed in Britain during the war he flew with the RAF.
by David Anderson G2G5 (5.5k points)
+7 votes
My husband, Earl J. Fields, was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam in 1965-66. He was once shot down but managed to crash land safely; he and his crew were rescued - that was Christmas Eve 1965. Upon returning to the USA he was stationed at Fort Wolters in Mineral Wells, Texas as an instructor for two years. We met during that time and married as he was released from the Army. For the next 19 years he flew helicopters for an oil company in the Gulf of Mexico transporting personnel and equipment to and from the rigs. He moved into management and retired after 34 years in the aircraft industry.

One of my Mom's first cousins, Ike Killingsworth, flew P-47's in World War II. He was shot down over France on D-Day. He was rescued by the French Resistance and eventually was helped along the way back to England where he resumed his duties as a pilot flying many missions until the end of the War. Later, he and his family connected with the family in France who hid him and passed him along to safety. They visited him in America and he visited them in France several times.
by Virginia Fields G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
edited by Virginia Fields
+8 votes
Yes! 1st Lt. Jon Marc King (King-42781), United States Air Force  

Jon was my brother in law who flew F-100s over Vietnam in 1970. He died there November 1970 when the transport plane that was to help get him home crashed into a mountain.
by Susan Ellen Smith G2G6 Mach 5 (52.1k points)

Sad... crying

Susan Ellen, your brother-in-law Jon was such a handsome young man. It was not easy to become F-100 pilot, and the drop out rate was high. What a terrible tragedy.
+6 votes

2nd Lt. Lauren M. Davis ( of the 447th Bomb Group corresponded with my grandfather Wallace K. Swanson as part of General Motors “Write A Fighter” program during World War 2.

I have researched Lauren’s service and family tree in hopes of finding a living relative to give Lauren’s original letter to.

Textbook entry featuring a lesson from Lauren Davis.

by Cathryn Hondros G2G6 Mach 3 (37.3k points)
+7 votes
Orville and Wilbur Wright are my distant cousins.
by Lisa Ankrum G2G6 (9.7k points)
+7 votes
My uncle, Sherwood Boughton, flew in WW2.  He flew small single engine planes like a Piper Cub.  It is my understanding this was done as an observer of activity near the front.  He continued to fly in the Army Reserve after the war.  I believe his rank colonel.  He took my sister and me on our first airplane ride in his small plane.  When he got older he switched from flying to sailing and taught me to sail.  I have a number of photographs.
by Harry Bryant G2G Crew (460 points)

Related questions

+21 votes
85 answers
+19 votes
62 answers
+25 votes
71 answers
+18 votes
26 answers
+14 votes
53 answers

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright