Lorraine O'Donnell Doyle, the sole surviving member
of a legendary family of pioneer aviators, now lives in the San Diego area, not
far from the old Claude Ryan haunts, where her father bought his first airplane.
She turned away from flying early on when so many good family friends were killed
in plane crashes.
Doyle witnessed Earl Daughtery fall to his death at
Long Beach Municipal Airport when she was six years old. It left an incredible scar.
The wing of his new biplane sheared off at an altitude of approximately 3000 feet.
On the ground, a breathless crowd was watching him put the plane through its paces.
They cried out as the aircraft went into an unswerving nose dive, plunging to earth
with a sickening "thud." The crowd cried. Her grandmother cried. She cried.
The reality of what happened had to be explained to her. Earl was now dead. She would never see
him again. He had gone to the place of vanished friends. This was a very sad time. Nevertheless,
what was understood from that day on was that flying was not all glory and parades to City Hall. Later on,
her brother was also killed in a crash at the age of 21, after surviving WWII.
Her interest in flying then became that of narrator of notes and foot notes on the flying O'Donnells.
To this day, she remains amazed at her mother's conquest of challenge in the face of enormous obstacles.
The story of the air race and the pioneer female pilots is told with a genuine sense of pride,
and gratitude, honoring their achievement as a giant step forward for women everywhere.
Doyle is also an artist and manages what is left of her grandfather's oil company, which is referred to in her book,
" Second to None," the story of Lloyd and Gladys O'Donnell and the
1929 Women's Air Derby. She has four adult children and resides with her husband and two Cocker Spaniels.
Pictured: The author, Lorraine (center), greets her mother after a flight with her brother James (Junior)
and grandmother Minnie Berry.