|On June 27, 1919 the Chehalis Bee-Nugget ran this advertisement for Munter's flying exhibition
in conjunction with the July Fourth celebration..
by Vic Kucera and Karen L. Johnson
Later in 1919, U.S. Army pilots began landing planes in Chehalis to refuel while flying a mission from Camp Lewis (now Fort Lewis) to Salem, Oregon. The biplanes carreid two passengers, Captain Owen Summers of Camp Lewis and Mae Norton, a reporter for the Portland Telegram. On August 1, 1919, the Chehalis Bee-Nugget reported that "The machine with Captain Summers made a number of swoops and side-sweeps as it left the field, but the one with Miss Norton kept an even keel. Miss Norton was slightly ill from her trip from Portland here, but not so indisposed but that she could finish the journey." On the return trip, the biplanes again stopped to take on more oil and gas. After departing, one flyer returned, having become lost in the clouds, then finding "the white spot" which marked the Chehalis landing area.
A few months later, government aviators began to thorougly inspect Lewis County and other western Washington counties for potential landing field sites. Aviation had indeed arrived.
Vic Kucera is a member of the Lewis County Historical Society, and is researching and writing a book about Alpha Prairie, a small community that once existed just east of Onalaska.
If you have any new information pertaining to the individuals or events described in this article, please contact Karen at the Museum. We would appreciate any updates.
To learn more about pioneer aviators from all over the country, visit www.earlyaviators.com.
LEWIS COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY & MUSEUM
599 N.W. Front Way, Chelais, Washington
Volume 26 - No. 4 December 2004