(Adapted from "Warren's Aviatrix, Helen Walker, Has Many Notable Accomplishments" by Bob Rogge in the Warren Times-Mirror and Observer, January 21, 1972)


            Today, flying is routine and thousands of planes take off and land safely every day. But when Helen Walker first stepped into the small Taylor Cub airplane at the Warren Airport in 1935, flying was still in its infancy. To be a pilot was to follow in the footsteps of popular heroes, such as Charles Lindberg and Amelia Earhardt. At the age of 30, Walker had decided she was going to learn how to fly.

            Upon receiving her student license in June, Walker logged less than nine hours of air time before she flew her first solo. By October of 1935, she had received her pilot's license. Her career would span the next 17 years and include many adventures.

            In 1938, Walker, along with her instructor “Slip" King and two other Warren pilots, participated in National Airmail Week by becoming airmail pilots for a day. Following a swear-in at the U.S. post office as an airmail pilot, Walker flew a route from Tidioute to Erie. It was during the early 1940s, however, that Walker made a longer and more important commitment to flying. In 1940, the Civilian Pilot Training class was instituted at the Warren Airport in order to train pilots for possible military service. Walker personally gave flying instructions to more than 200 young men and women during the early war years, many of whom flew during the war.

            Walker remembers vividly the high tension wires at the west end of the Warren field. She states that in the low-powered Cubs that she flew “you had to make up your mind right away whether you were going to go over or under those wires. We used to go under them pretty regularly." There was also the river to contend with, as it bordered the airport. More than one plane ended up in the water of the Allegheny when the pilot miscalculated the landing distance.

            Walker, at times, flew as a cargo pilot and also received the prestigious 99er trophy from the famed women’s flying group of the pre-war years.

            A reporter in 1972 asked Helen if she would do it again. She replied, “You bet I would. It makes everything else seem so tame by comparison.”



Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society