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Woman Flies Solo in Male-Dominated, Early Aviation

It was a long, lonely drive from Medford, Ore., to the Grand Central Air Terminal in Los Angeles in the early 1930s, but Dorothy Carless didn’t mind. She was going to take flying lessons there!  She told an interviewer, “I think I was born wanting to fly. … I had my first flight as a passenger at the old Medford airfield. I just kept on thinking and thinking about flying.”

And fly she did. Carless had a month of lessons in an old army-training plane. “When I came down after my first solo flight, that was a thrill. I had to play hide-and-seek with … (another small plane).”
Returning to her job at a fruit-packing company, Carless continued to fly. She was Medford’s only woman pilot and obtained her private license in 1935, the same year she married Fuller Arney.  She had been flying his little red plane, the Waco F, in Medford.
Carless said, “To fly into the dawn, to fly into the sunset, to fly over the water, or over hundreds of little homes at night, and wonder what they are planning for the evening. It makes you feel—omnipotent!”

Source: Butler, Jeunesse. "Dorothy Carless, Licensed Airplane Pilot." Pear-O-Scope April; p. 8. 

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.