Pearl Laska Chamberlain

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Pearl L. Chamberlain
Pearl Laska Chamberlain WASP trainee.jpeg
Pearl Laska Chamberlain, WASP trainee
Lelia Pearl Bragg

(1909-04-29)April 29, 1909
Chestnut Mountain, Summers County, West Virginia, U.S.
DiedNovember 22, 2012(2012-11-22) (aged 103)[1]
Richland Place Nursing Home, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.[1]
Spouse(s)Lewis Lincoln Laska
Ed Chamberlain
ChildrenLewis L. Laska (born 1947)

Pearl Laska Chamberlain (born Lelia Pearl Bragg; April 29, 1909 – November 22, 2012) was an American woman pilot. She learned to fly in a Kinner Fleet bi-plane in 1933 and held a pilot’s certificate until she was 97.[2] Prior to World War II, the federal government established the Civilian Pilot Training Program, a back-door method to train pilots for military service.

One of eight children born to John W. and Lanie C. Bragg, she joined the WASPs during WWII and was honorably discharged.[3] In 1944, following her dream to be a full-time pilot, Pearl moved to Nome, Alaska and worked as a flight instructor and bush pilot. Her adventures as a pilot involved everything from Powder Puff Derbies to filling her tank with water instead of gasoline. [4] The next year she became the first woman to solo a single-engine airplane (a 1939 Piper J-4) up the Alaska Highway. The FAA recognized her achievements as a pioneer Alaska aviator in 2006.[5] Scorning the belief that Alaska Natives were unable to learn flying, she taught many, including Holger Jorgensen, who became the first Native hired as a pilot by a scheduled airline.[6]

She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Alaska in 1955, and her master's degree from Miami University of Ohio in 1959.[1] In March 2006, she received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award.[7]


In 1946, she wed Lewis Lincoln Laska, a merchant and fur dealer in McGrath, Alaska. Lew Laska died four months later at the age of 50. Their son, Lewis, was born the following year, in 1947. She ran her husband's store and parka factory for another four years after his death. She remarried to Ed Chamberlain, with whom she lived in California until his death in 1987.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Lelia Pearl Bragg Laska CHAMBERLAIN Obituary". Retrieved 2012-12-03.
  2. ^ Sumner, Sandi (2005-01-31). Women Pilots Of Alaska: 37 Interviews And Profiles - Sandi Sumner - Google Books. ISBN 9780786419371. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  3. ^ "Digital Collections: Item Viewer". 2004-10-02. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  4. ^ "Pearl Laska Chamberlain". Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  5. ^ "Alaska Briefs - Alaska Journal of Commerce - February Issue 1 2005 - Anchorage, AK". 2005-02-20. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  6. ^ Biography, Accessed May 9, 2022.
  7. ^ SunStar Media. "The Ninety-Nines, Inc. | About the Organization | Awards | Past Award Winners". Retrieved 2012-11-29.