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YOUR PURCHASE OF THESE BOOKS SUPPORTS THE WEB SITES THAT BRING TO YOU THE HISTORY BEHIND OLD AIRFIELD REGISTERS

Your copy of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. 375 pages with black & white photographs and extensive tables

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The Congress of Ghosts (available as eBook) is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of www.dmairfield.org and the 10th year of effort on the project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link.

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Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936 is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author, while supplies last.

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Art Goebel's Own Story by Art Goebel (edited by G.W. Hyatt) is written in language that expands for us his life as a Golden Age aviation entrepreneur, who used his aviation exploits to build a business around his passion.  Available as a free download at the link.

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Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race (available as eBook) is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author, while supplies last.

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Clover Field: The first Century of Aviation in the Golden State (available in paperback) With the 100th anniversary in 2017 of the use of Clover Field as a place to land aircraft in Santa Monica, this book celebrates that use by exploring some of the people and aircraft that made the airport great. 281 pages, black & white photographs.

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I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Fyle and her airplane to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.

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Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.

 

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GRETCHEN FYLE (KALFAS)

 

Born in Michigan, Gretchen Fyle's earliest Census information places her in California. The 1920 U.S Census, her first, documents her living at age 5 with her widowed mother, Gertrude (34) and sister, Mary Beth (8), in a rented home at 1520 LaBaig Avenue, Los Angeles, a block north of Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood.

Gretchen Fyle, 1932 Beverly
Hills High School Yearbook Photograph
(Source: ancestry.com)
Gretchen Fyle, 1932 Beverly Hills High School Yearbook Photograph (Source: ancestry.com)

 

 

By the 1930 U.S. Census, her mother had remarried to Jack W. Reeves (40), an executive in the oil industry. The sisters lived with them and two servants, Arthur and Doris Halthe, at 1125 Tower Road in Beverly Hills. The Census valued Reeves' house at $175,000 in 1930. You can find its value today online. Gretchen was probably taking flying lessons about this time.

Sandusky (OH) Register, October 29, 1930 (Source: Woodling)

GIRL GETS LICENSE
NORWALK, Oct. 28-(Special)—
Miss Gretchen Fyle, 16 year old daughter of Mrs. Jack Reeves of Beverly Hills, Calif., has received an aviator's license, which makes her one of the youngest pilots in the country. Her mother formerly was Miss Gertrude Titus a former Norwalk
resident.

 

Her Beverly Hills High School (1932) senior yearbook photograph is at left. Fyle was one of the youngest pilots to receive a pilot certificate. The Sandusky (OH) Register of October 29, 1930 cites this fact, right.

Almost a year later, she landed once at Clover Field, on Wednesday, August 5, 1931. She was solo in the Fleet she identified as NC8602. According to the Register, she owned the airplane. She noted "Mines Field" in the arrived from column in the Register.

She became part of the sisterhood of pilots in the Los Angeles area. Below, from the Sunday Oakland Tribune of December 13, 1931, is an article citing a meeting of female aviators in the Los Angeles area. The meeting was one of many in support of female pilots hosted by Mildred Morgan at her home. Fyle is pictured at photo center, with a string of beads around her neck. Interestingly, her sister, Mary Beth, was also a pilot and is also pictured below.

Oakland Tribune, Sunday, December 13, 1931 (Source: Woodling)
Oakland Tribune, Sunday, December 13, 1931 (Source: Woodling)

Across the suite of Delta Mike Airfield, Inc. Registers, there are over 160 landings made by female aviators. Some of them, besides Fyle, are pictured above. They include Eileen Curley (I believe her name is misspelled in the article), Jean Stuart, Melba Gorby (name definitely misspelled), Jessie Keith-Miller, Peggy Gilliland, Bobbie Trout (misspelled), Georgia McGaffey (misspelled), Hilda Jarmuth, Gladys O'Donnell, Margaret Perry Cooper, Pancho Barnes, Mildred Morgan, Clema Granger and Patty Willis. This group photograph is a "who's who" of accomplished, LA-area, Golden Age female flyers.

To-date, I have little information about pilot Fyle's professional or personal life. If you can help fill in the blanks, please let me KNOW. I know that Fyle moved easily around the country. During the late 1930s, she had a presence in the society pages of, for example, The New York Times. On July 30, 1937 she was a guest at a tea dance in the "Garden at the Ambassador" given for a friend's fiancé. Later, she was cited in The Times on September 25, 1937 as participating in a luncheon in her honor given at the Casino at White Sulphur Springs, WV by Mr. & Mrs. William A. Fisher (of the Fisher Body company). And on January 23, 1938 she was a guest of the Fishers again at their box at the Hialeah Race Track for an afternoon of horse racing.

Gretchen Fyle 1914-1962, Travel Itineraries (Source: ancestry.com)
DATE ORIGIN DESTINATION MODE
June 16, 1932 Honolulu, T.H. Los Angeles, CA S.S. Mariposa
July 11, 1935 Honolulu, T.H. Los Angeles, CA S.S. Lurline
January 7, 1937 New York, NY San Pedro, CA S.S. Franconia
February 8, 1938 Nassau, Bahamas Miami, FL S.S. New Northland
May 15, 1945 Montreal, Canada New York, NY Colonial Airlines DC-3 NC21751

 

Over the same time period she was well-traveled abroad. Immigration records available online are tabulated at left.

The voyage from Hawaii in 1932 was made during the year of her high school graduation at age 18. She sailed with her sister, Mary Beth, age 21.

Her January 1937 voyage was several months long and took her through the Panama Canal. Tragically, the immigration form documented one of her fellow passengers as "lost overboard" along the way. Her May 1945 flight from Montreal to Detroit during the waning days of WWII was made with her husband, James Kalfas.

James Kalfas Post-WWII Draft Registration (Source: findagrave.com)

 

James George Kalfas was a Canadian citizen born in 1919 in Montreal. His occupation listed on the 1945 immigration form was "film distribution." His July 9, 1946 draft registration is at right. The reverse of this form described him as 5'9" and 195 pounds with brown hair and eyes and a ruddy complexion. He wore eyeglasses. They had one daughter, Christina Gertrude, born August 26,1948 (see below).

I found no record of their marriage, or of a divorce. Kalfas may have been widowed after Gretchen's passing in 1962. Regardless, after Gretchen, who seems to have been his first wife, Kalfas married twice more, seemingly to the same woman. He married Brenda F. Anderson in 1965. They seem to have divorced, Brenda married someone else; was divorced and married Kalfas again in 1977. Kalfas died May 3, 1996 in Riverside, CA.

A 1948 voters' roll listed Gretchen Kalfas as a Republican living at 1402 North Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles. That address appears today to be a two-storey apartment building. It appeared that James did not live in the same household.

Gretchen Fyle 1914-1962 Grave Marker (Source: findagrave.com)
Gretchen Fyle 1914-1962 Grave Marker (Source: findagrave.com)

 

According to numerous records, Gretchen Fyle Kalfas was born March 15, 1914 in Detroit, MI and flew West relatively young from Santa Barbara, CA on November 11, 1962.

She is buried in Santa Barbara. Her grave marker is at right. She is buried next to their daughter (d. January 14,1991). Coincidentally, she and her daughter died at approximately the same age. She carried Private pilot certificate P17556.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 09/10/14 REVISED: 07/20/20