Date in History: 1946

In 1946 the city of Fort Atkinson rented 120 acres just two miles north of town for a grass field airport. The landowner was Ray Gardinier, an airport advocate who looked forward to the day when “tree-ripened California fruit will be at our grocer’s every morning, and planes will be thicker at the Fort airport than July flies around the sugar bowl.” The new field attracted flight instructor Erling Mickalson to Fort Atkinson to offer charter flights and flight instruction in a Piper trainer.

The first Fort Atkinson amateur flyer to solo at the airport was Dr. John Gates who went up on October 6th, 1946 just four days before his rival, fellow student Mrs. Marion Schremp, got airborne. Watching his wife soar alone into the sky, Mr. Alex Schremp boasted to everyone nearby that he intended to take up knitting!

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 07/14/2003.