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  • Gladys Dawson Buroker
  • Gladys Dawson Buroker

    Foil: 23 Panel: 3 Column: 1 Line: 21

    Wall of Honor Level:
    Air and Space Sponsor

    Honored by:
    Intermountain Chapter Of The 99s

    Gladys was born and raised north of Seattle, Washington. Her interest in aviation began as a child. At 18, a high school graduate, she made her first solo flight after only five hours of instruction. She flew an OX-5 Waco 10 on a September day in 1932. Her sense of adventure led her to parachute jumping with a barnstorming group, wing walking, and a motorcycle tour of the 48 states.

    By 1935 she had saved enough money to buy her first plane, a two year old Travel Air 2000 for $400. The plane boasted a Curtis OX-6 water cooled 100 horsepower engine, the first of its type to be manufactured with dual ignition -- it was a hot machine.

    On August 4, 1937 Gladys married her longtime friend and flight instructor, Herb Buroker. In November she passed her written exam and flight test to receive her pilot's license. She continued studying and passed the examination for her commercial certificate and flight instructor's rating before she logged the 200 hours required for the commercial flight test. She passed her commercial flight test and flight instructor exams in 1938.

    As World War II approached she became the first woman instructor at the all-male St. Martin's College (Lacey, Washington) in the Civilian Pilot Training Program. With the outbreak of the war Gladys and her husband moved their pilot training inland to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. With the U.S. now at war, their flight training program was part of the War Training Service (WTS). By 1943 their program had grown to 38 flight instructors and 200 students. In January 1944 they received notice that the WTS activities would cease immediately. They were fortunate to be able to obtain a contract through the Veterans Administration for veteran flight training.

    A hanger fire in 1950 prompted a change of life for the couple. In the late 1960's Gladys embarked on a second career as a licensed practical nurse at the Kootenai Memorial Hospital. She remained actively involved with aviation, and participated in the development of the Henley Aerodrome at Athol, Idaho, a base for vintage airplanes. In 1972 she bought a Semco (9GB) hot air balloon, the challenger model, TC-7, which came equipped with three burners and a wicker basket. She flew that hot air balloon on the opening day at the Expo '74 World's Fair in Spokane, Washington. In addition to planes and balloons, she was also involved with gliders.

    In retirement she became manager of flight operations for the new owner of the aerodrome. She flew gliders, and on occasion, the Pawnee tow plane and the Cessna 182 "jump" plane. At the end of the season in 1990 she chose to retire. Gladys Buroker represents that indomitable will that sparks all who fly.

    She was the recipient of many awards, a few of which include Hall of Fame Pathfinder Award, Museum of Flight Seattle, Washington; Instructor of the Year Award, Federal Aviation Administration, Tacoma, Washington; she was featured in the Museum of Oshkosh with an exhibit "The Life of Gladys Buroker;" J.C. Penney Spirit of the American Woman Award, Coeur D'Alene, Idaho; Idaho Aviation Hall of Fame Award, Boise, Idaho, National Aeronautic Association Elder Statesman of Aviation Award, Washington, D.C.

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    Foil: 23

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