Faribault Airport Dedication Details on AM Minnesota
Representatives of the American Association of University Women Faribault Chapter will be on AM Minnesota on Thursday to talk about their special Faribault Airport dedication Saturday.
I was told they will have bars at the event but organizers don't know how many people to plan for. I hope scores of people attend to honor a terrific woman who was the first woman to conduct a solo flight at the Faribault Airport.
Isn't it a bit ironic that a woman who dreamed of being a commercial pilot after the war and was denied that opportunity will have an airport named after her?
The Faribault Municipal Airport will have added to its name Liz Wall Strohfus Field in honor of Faribault's own World War II Women's Air Service Pilot (WASP) who told her story to a few generations of high school and college students.
I attended Liz's induction into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame and visited with her many times over the years. I'm elated our community airport is being named after the recipient of two Congressional Medals of Honor. My guess is there are not a lot of Americans, let alone Faribault people, who can make that claim.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar is scheduled to be at Saturday's special program, which is fitting because one of Liz's final efforts was working with the Minnesota U.S. senator on allowing WASPS to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
This was not for Strohfus. She was buried in the family plot at her request. She simply believed if a woman who served her country wanted to be laid to rest in Arlington they should be allowed there and Klobuchar agreed.
The airport dedication takes place from 1-4PM Saturday at the airport, with a program at 2PM.
Last Sunday I had the good fortune to stand in line at the Father's Day Cannon Falls Lions event at Stanton Airfield with Liz's son. We exchanged stories about his mom and I told him that I frankly would have loved to have met her when she was in her 20s or 30s because she was a ball of fire when I met her in her late 60s right up until her passing at age 96.
I recalled the story of Liz at 72 piloting a F-16 fighter jet. She went for a ride and while they were airborne the pilot asked her if she would like to take the controls for a while. "Of course," was her reply. He told her if she needed a barf bag she could use his and she said she wouldn't need it. When they landed, Liz told me the young man looked kind of green after she flew a few loops.
I believe her story because that's who Liz "Betty" Wall Strohfus was. She loved to fly and was evidently an adrenaline junkie.
A book is being written about the WASPS and there is also a movie about them in the works.
During the Sunday event in Stanton, I also had the good fortune of meeting the man restoring a BT-13 like the one Liz flew during the war. He showed me a picture and it is terrific. Hopefully they will be able to fly it here. Eventually it's supposed to be flown to a WASP museum that is being opened in Sweetwater, Texas.
Liz's smile and laugh would light up a room and I can see and hear her now as I write this.
I think of this anonymous quote: "Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." That pretty much sums up the life of Liz "Betty" Wall Strohfus.