Pearl Laska Chamberlain

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Pearl L. Chamberlain
Pearl Laska Chamberlain WASP trainee.jpeg
Pearl Laska Chamberlain, WASP trainee
Born Lelia Pearl Bragg
(1909-04-29)April 29, 1909
Chestnut Mountain, Summers County, West Virginia
Died November 22, 2012(2012-11-22) (aged 103)[1]
Nationality American
Occupation Pilot
Spouse(s) Lewis Lincoln Laska, Ed Chamberlain

Pearl Laska Chamberlain (born Lelia Pearl Bragg; April 29, 1909 – November 22, 2012) 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.

She was a W.A.S.P. (Women Airforce Service Pilots) trainee during the war and was honorably discharged.[3] In 1945, following her dream to be a full-time pilot, Pearl moved to Nome, Alaska and worked as a flight instructor and bush pilot.[4] The next year she became the first woman to solo a single-engine airplane (a 1939 Piper J-4) up the Alaska Highway.[5] The FAA recognized her achievements as a pioneer Alaska aviator in 2006.[6] Scorning the belief that Alaska Natives (Inuit, etc.) were unable to learn flying, she taught many, including Holger Jorgensen, who became the first Native hired as a pilot by a scheduled air line.[7]

In 2007 she received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award.[8]


  1. ^ "Lelia Pearl Bragg Laska CHAMBERLAIN Obituary: View Lelia CHAMBERLAIN's Obituary by The Tennessean". Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  2. ^ Women Pilots Of Alaska: 37 Interviews And Profiles - Sandi Sumner - Google Books. 2005-01-31. 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. ^ "Pearl Laska Chamberlain". Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  6. ^ "Alaska Briefs - Alaska Journal of Commerce - February Issue 1 2005 - Anchorage, AK". 2005-02-20. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  7. ^ Pilot Infonews biography
  8. ^ SunStar Media. "The Ninety-Nines, Inc. | About the Organization | Awards | Past Award Winners". Retrieved 2012-11-29.