NWA Martin 202 Crash 65 years ago memorialized today at Almelund, Minnesota

Dennis Brown contacted Lady Skywriter last Thursday to introduce himself and tell me he had been doing research on the Northwest Airlines Martin 202 crash at Almelund MN for years.  On the website he found my article about Northwest’s dark chapter with the Martin 202s during the 1950s. Dennis was planning a memorial observation of the crash on its 65th anniversary, today, Oct 13, 2015.  He had heard that the son of one of the pilots of the aircraft had visited the crash site some years ago, but Dennis had not been able to identify the son nor find him.  Mike Cagley is the son Dennis was looking for. His father, Ray Render, had been pilot examiner on the flight. I had interviewed Mike and his family for the article Dennis read.  I also knew that Mike would very likely be attending the MSP Airline Collectible Show and Sale this past Saturday, Oct. 10.  After inviting Dennis to attend I confirmed with Mike that he would, indeed, be there. Mike and his wife Martha and Dennis Brown met for the first time on Saturday and spent much time looking at each other’s vast collections of research.  Dennis confirmed his plans to visit the crash site today to memorialize the crew members lost and invited Mike and his family to attend.  Following is a note from Dennis with some photos of their meeting together today.

“We had a very blessed time and spent about an hour and a half at the crash site. Father Frank presented a most appropriate informal service, talking about St. Joseph Cupertino, the Patron Saint of Aviators and how those men on the plane looked upon the face of God 65 years ago today. After prayers of St. Joseph we concluded with the Lord’s Prayer.

A member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Clayton Rivard attended with his wife Mary. He made a small cross to mark the crash site and Martha Cagley, Mike’s wife, brought a spray of flowers. Brian Cagley, Mike & Martha’s son also attended.

Father Frank, of course, is the fellow in the red sweatshirt. The Rivards were teenagers at the time of the crash and visited the site.” Photos courtesy of Dennis Brown.


l-r Martha Cagley, Mike Cagley, Father Frank, Mrs. Brown, Dennis Brown and Mary Rivard


Father Frank and Mike Cagley during the service


Brian Cagley, Mike and Martha’s son, facing the camera


MSP Airline Collectible Show and Sale a Success!

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Mary Tanghe inspecting the new note cards Lady Skywriter launched at the show, featuring Mary’s dad, Caz Falenczykowski smiling out from the B-377 Stratocruiser flight deck in 1958.

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l-r: Mike Cagley, son of Ray Render, NWA Captain lost in the NWA Martin 202 crash Oct. 13, 1950 in Almelund, WI and Don Falenczykowski, SW Captain, reviewing some information relative to that sad event as we near the 65th anniversary of its occurence.

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It was a good day filled with old friends, new friends and fascinating airline related treasures. Here with Joan Lee, Editor and good friend, who helped sell books, note cards and memorabilia.

Photos courtesy of Robert DuBert.

MSP Collectibles Show and Sale Saturday, October 10

I’ll be there at an Author Table with the 2nd Edition of my book, Fujiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels:

AirSpace Minnesota Open House & Fly-In Historic Holman Field The next generation of pioneers took to the skies during the Navigate Your World aviation event on Saturday, September 26.

©2015 Larry Grace Photography.

With 56 more pages and 83 more photos, the 2nd Edition adds new stories spawned by readers of the original edition published in 2009; plus reviews of books about NWA and tributes to many special Northwest people who have ‘flown west’ in the intervening years.

I’ll also be unveiling a brand new set of note cards, the “Stratocruiser Series,” featuring images from Lady Skywriter’s vintage 1950s collection while she was a stewardess for NWA on the Boeing Stratocruiser. First time available October 10!

And don’t miss the exciting launch of a series of new posters by Chris Widlack:  A NWA Boeing Stratocruiser, North Central Convair 580 and a 1960s vintage MSP airport poster.  You will absolutely have to possess at least one of these incredibly detailed works of art.

Many dealers from near and wide will offer items relating to multiple airlines and aviation in general.  And don’t forget the NWA History Centre gift shop will offer vintage logo’d shirts, caps, jewelry, mugs, and books about Northwest Airlines.  Plus, for the first time, duplicate items from the museum’s archives will be offered for sale to the public.

See you there!

MSP 2015 Show Flyer 2.1-01 (Small)

More Amazing Photographs from Global Girls in Aviation Day!


Two sessions of Girls Going Boldly: Over 1,000 attended at St. Paul Downtown Airport Sept. 26. ©2015 Larry Grace Photography.


These girls are loving it! ©2015 Larry Grace Photography.


Julie Clark, retired Northwest Airlines Captain and air show performer arriving in her “Smokin’ T-34. ©2015 Larry Grace Photography.


Julie Clark on the ground. ©2015 Larry Grace Photography.


The girls are loving Julie’s gold-plated engine! ©2015 Larry Grace Photography.


An astronaut, Dr. Sandra Magnus; A WWII W.A.S.P., Elizabeth Strophus; Scott Romuld, AT-6 Thunder pilot; pictured with the airplane Liz instructed young male pilots in 70 years ago and Scott now flies.  ©2015 Larry Grace Photography.


The Legends panel at one of two appearances. Elizabeth Bierman, president of the Society of Women in Engineering; Elizabeth Strophus, WWII W.A.S.P.; Julie Clark, ret. NWA Captain and aerobatic performer; Dr. Sandra Magnus, Astronaut, Anne Kerr, Lady Skywriter; Barb Wiley, ret. RC/NWA Captain. ©2015 Larry Grace Photography.


214 girls loved their free “Young Eagles” flights piloted by EAA volunteers. ©2015 Larry Grace Photography.


It took a lot of dedicated volunteers to pull this off! Thanks Stars of the North, Women in Aviation and AirSpace MN!  Pictured in front of ret. RC/NWA pilot Barb Wiley’s amphibious Cessna 172XP. ©2015 Larry Grace Photography.



Global Girls in Aviation Day A Huge Success!

Oh the places they’ll go and the people they’ll see!!!


No wonder these girls are smiling and happy.  They’ve had a chance to get up-close and personal with a real live astronaut!

Dr. Sandra Magnus (back row) has been in space THREE times!  And spent 4-1/2 months on the International Space Station on N.A.S.A. Expedition 18 in 2008.  The girls loved hearing about the challenges of washing one’s hair in a weightless environment.  One of the girls was eating corn puffs out of a bag and Dr. Magnus told her astronauts couldn’t take snacks like that into space because if they did, the moment they opened the bag all of the contests would explode out of the bag and fly all over.  She said that could be dangerous if one got caught in their eyes or did other damage.


Another popular celebrity was Julie Clark, retired Northwest Airlines Captain and aerobatic airshow pilot for 36 consecutive years in her “smokin” Beechcraft T-34.  Here the girls were paying rapt attention while Julie told them about her gold-plated engine.

And guess who got multiple standing ovations throughout the day?  Elizabeth Strophus, that’s who!


Liz captivated her audiences with tales of serving as a W.A.S.P. (Women’s Airforce Service Pilot) during WWII.  She was fascinating, funny and entertaining.  She exuded love of flying and love for the young girls attending this conference.  She told about becoming a flight instructor for the “young men” coming into the service; ferrying multiple types of aircraft all over the country from one air base to another and flying anti-aircraft missions.  She talked about not having uniforms like male pilots until Jackie Cochran had a uniform designed and produced for them.  Then in 1944 the government unceremoniously disbanded the W.A.S.P.s and “told us to go home and get on with our lives.”  When Liz got home she immediately went to Northwest Airlines to apply for a pilot job.  She thought they’d be happy to have someone qualified to fly 8 different types of aircraft and with as much experience as she had.  They said they’d be happy to have her all right, but not as a pilot. She was offered a desk job.  She declined.  The W.A.S.P’s went unrecognized for their service for 35 years, until finally they were awarded veteran status in 1977 and in 2009 the organization received a Congressional Gold Medal.  Liz, at 91, continues to inspire and captivate audiences all over the country, making about 35 appearances a year.

Barb Wiley was the first female pilot hired by North Central Airlines in 1974, and one of the first three females in the U.S. hired by commercial airlines. Over the years North Central became Republic, then Northwest Airlines; and Barb served as a Captain on the Convair 580, DC-9, Airbus 320 and Boeing B-747 logging 23,000 hours.  Barb retired in 2005


Here’s Barb being interviewed at Global Girls in Aviation Day in front of her Cessna 172XP on amphibious floats, which she flies to locations in Minnesota and Canada.

It was an honor and a privilege to meet these inspiring women and the excited and energetic girls who came to check out the possibility of careers in aviation and space.  Go Boldly, Girls!

For more details about the day and lots of great photographs go to the AirSpace MN website.

Global Girls in Aviation Day Tomorrow, September 26!


C’mon over to St. Paul Airport (Holman Field) for the festivities.  This event is specifically for girls, ages 10 to 17, to familiarize them with the transformative career opportunities associated with flight, and how education in S.T. E. M (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) can help achieve these goals. Two identical sessions, 9 a.m. – Noon, and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Bring your parents, teachers and youth group leaders. Lots to see and do and interesting people to meet.  Have a close up view of several airplanes, including Julie Clark’s Smokin T-34 Mentor. It is forecast to be CAVU (Clear and visibility unlimited) so come early, stay late and wear comfortable walking shoes. Over 700 attendees are expected.  See you there!


The NWAHC is Waiting to See You!

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Yours truly with Southwest Capt. Don Falenczykowski and daughter Susanne from Chicago

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Our first official visitor to the new HC was David Grabitske, Manager of Outreach Services for the Historic Preservation Department of the Minnesota Historical Society, accompanied by sons George and Daniel. HC Board members Fay Kulenkamp and Bruce Kitt did the welcoming honors. That’s HC volunteer Elaine Mielke in the background.

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Dave McCarthy and Anne discussing the location of the organ which .provided cabin music on NWA Boeing Stratocruiser 709. Wendy McCarthy seems to be enjoying the conversation.


HC volunteer and newsletter editor Robert DuBert gives Warren and John Nentwig instructions on how to list for flights on the Delta employee TravelNet, putting to good use the desk of former Northwest president Croil Hunter. That’s Hunter’s photo on the left.


HC board members Capt. Dru Dunwoody and Sue Rostkoski. The board has worked ceaselessly over the last several months to manage our relocation and get the new HC up and running.

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Northwest airplanes everywhere (except the Delta jet Anne won for placing third in the Trivia contest at the Airliners International ATL 2015 and holds in her hand.) Don Falenczykowski holds the Northwest DC-4 made especially for Anne by Atlantic Models, Miami in appreciation for her speaking at this year’s AI banquet.B

All photos and some captions courtesy of Robert DuBert, NWAHC newsletter REFLECTIONS editor. Thanks, Bob!

Beautiful bags made from Recycled Leather Airline Seat Covers


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It all started with an email from Don Falenczykowski, my friend and Southwest Airlines Captain based at MDW, passing the word about these great new products made from repurposed Southwest Airlines leather seats.


Clova Falenczykowski inside “The Spirit of Kitty Hawk”, a museum within a museum at Frontiers of Flight, Southwest’s museum at Love Field TX.

Making bags out of airplane seat covers is an EXTREME exercise in creativity, akin to designing a big jigsaw puzzle that can also be assembled into a bag.  Click here to see how these leather seats are upcycled and painstakingly fashioned into Totes, backpacks, duffle bags and other handsome items.


Oh yes, Lady Skywriter had to have a tote bag. And she loves it!

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When my tote arrived, the following card was inside in a pocket.  See last line if you wish to order.

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Thanks Cap’t. Don for steering me to these fantastic bags!

Thank you Airliners International ATL 2015, and Roger Jarman, Atlantic Models, for this stunning DC-4!


Yup – there she is, just arrived. A very special DC-4 in Northwest livery, produced especially for Lady Skywriter in appreciation for her appearance at the Airliners International 2015 ATL Banquet, where she shared her impressions of passenger flight in the 1950s, the golden age of passenger flight. N6404 is 1/72 scale, 19-1/2″ wingspan and 16″ length.

Let’s be clear, here.  One has to be old to remember working on DC-4s and B-377 Stratocruisers.  And to have photos and mementos from those days to share with others.  For a story about my flying days on a DC-4 please click on “Meet Anne” above, and under that, “Memoir Excerpts.”  There you’ll find A month on the vomit comet -or- not all aircraft were Stratocruisers.

I loved being in Atlanta and sharing tales of long-ago days with the assembled (mostly much younger) crowd. Most of all, I loved meeting folks and making new friends from all over the world.  And on top of that, to have this event take place at the Delta Flight Museum with 100% scale airliners over us, under us and next to us – the whole time – was frosting on the cake.

11141225_10205481740537036_1805790425430387584_nGreg Romanoski, Delta Museum, achieved miracles over the course of the weekend, transforming a huge space with hundreds of tables of vendors and exhibitors into an elegant banquet setting in (seemingly) the blink of an eye. I know about these things, having worked in meeting and banquet sales at Marriott Hotels for a few years back int he 70s.  Great job, Greg!10988473_629736867163769_5059926690988384337_n

Special thanks go to Bill Demarest, Chris Slimmer and Sara Gradwohl of Airliners International 2015 ATL for inviting me, making sure my every need was met and for introducing me to so many interesting people.  As you can see I was happy!


And special thanks to Roger Jarman of Atlantic Models for overseeing the careful and accurate reproduction of the Northwest DC-4 pictured above, and made especially for me.

Hope to see you for the 40th in New Orleans next year!


Sunday with the Flying Falenczykowski’s and a Fujiyama Tray

The first thing I saw when I entered Mary and Jan’s house, after Cap’n. Don greeted me at the door, was this magnificent presentation.


A wonderful recreation of a NWA Fujiyama Tray, complete with vintage Kokeshi dolls, Fujiyama Room cocktail napkins, a Boeing B-377 Stratocruiser, photos of mom Susan and dad Caz and a copy of the 2nd Edition of Fujiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels, which contains the Falenczykowski story.

Turns out this was only the beginning.  I had met retired NC/Republic/NWA Cap’t. Richard; Skyways/Mississippi Valley/Air  Wisconsin/Southwest Cap’t. Don; retired NC/Republic F/A Lona and retired physician Mary previously.  Over 50 years ago I met Caz, NWA Captain and the Patriarch. The only one of Caz and Susan’s children I had not met was retired Skyways/North Central/Republic/NWA Cap’t. Robert, whom I finally met on Sunday.

The occasion, I was told, was to mark the comings and goings of Emily and Susanne.  Emily (Lona’s daughter) had just returned from a year working in Namibia and Susanne (Don’s daughter) was leaving town later Sunday evening for several months in Iceland and Poland; visiting a family in Iceland she lived with during a year as a high school exchange student.  Then visiting family in Poland.

It was a remarkably festive occasion, punctuated with never-ending courses of delicious food.  And entertainment.  While we were noshing on the Fujiyama Tray, Mary’s granddaughter Lily Tanghe read from my book, page 61, stories about the fabled tray.


Lily Tanghe, an aspiring author, reading from Fujiyama Trays & Oshibori Towels about the legendary hors d’ouvres tray while we enjoyed the magnificent reproduction.

There were attempts made to corral everyone for a group photo.  Efforts were never totally successful.  Apologies to those not included in the photo or who may have been behind the paparazzi cameras trained on us.


Don’t we look well-fed and happy?


In the end, this tray is testimony to the enjoyment that went before. Great job, Falenczykowski’s! I couldn’t have done it better.