Evelyn "Pinky"
Pinkert Brier 44-W-9

"...once a bird soars, it can never settle for a stroll... first thing in the morning you check the weather, wind direction and cloud cover"

roll over picture to see Pinky Brier get kissed by the Mayor in 1938. Pinky flew the first air mail letter from Redlands. (A.K. Smiley Public Library)

The following reprinted from "Class 44-W-9" (p19-21) Edited by WASP Betty Stagg Turner, 44-W-9

Born on April 12, Pinky Kilgare had 3 brothers and 1 sister (who was the well known prophet and astrologer, Jeane Dixon).

In 1935 Pinky was taught to fly at Arlington, near Riverside, by Lieutenant Joe Brier, who was then stationed at March Field. She loved it. Aviation became her permanent way of life in 1937. She flew from a farmer strip in Beaumont for a couple of years. As she put her lifelong habit: "the first thing in the morning you check the weather, wind direction and cloud cover...one a bird soars, it can never settle for a stroll."

In 1939, Joe Brier acquired Tri-City Airport, owning it until December 1979. Throughout most of this period was a partnership of Pinky and her husband, Joe Brier, to whom she married before World War II. He died in 1976. It was an unusual partnership in that Joe, who was also a superb mechanic and electronics technician, would fix the planes and Pinky would fly them.

Soon after Pinky acquired the airport, the clouds of war were gathering. Anticipating a need for many military pilots, the government established a civil aviation pilot training program here (Tri City Airport), the book work and ground classes were at San Bernardino Valley College. Pinky gave the flight training. Many of her students did become military pilots, including two Redlands women.

Pinky is "the first woman flight instructor in the United States".

September 6, 1942, Pinky received the official AAF telegram inviting her to apply for civilian ferrying duty. She opted to stay with Joe, knowing he would soon be sent "over seas". After Joe went over seas, Pinky applied for the WASP program and was accepted into the class of 44-9. After graduation, she was stationed at Minter Field, Bakersfield, California, where she was a ferry pilot, flying a variety of planes.

Pinky became a living legend in the San Bernardino area as a charter-flight pilot and with her husband Joe, as the owners (until 1979) of the Tri-City Airport. As a charter pilot she flew whenever (and wherever) her clients wanted to go--noon or midnight, Wednesday or Sunday, Christmas or any day. Because of this remarkable dedication to service, combined with peerless airmanship, she built up a unique charter service.

This would sometimes take her into Los Angeles Airport four or five times in a single day. Since all pilots communicate with approach and departure control and ground control, hundreds of airline pilots, through the years, heard the voice of "that woman pilot, Pinky," and wondered about her.

Because of her reputation, numerous famous people have called upon her for a flight (eg): Earl Warren while he was Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and John McCone, when he was head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

For years she flew for Erle Stanley Gardner, the mystery writer, when he was spellbound by the Mojave Desert. She landed him in various remote spots. His books became the basis for the Perry Mason television series. In many of Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason novels, "Pinky" is Perry Mason's personal pilot.

She took the deepest personal satisfaction from mercy, or quasi-mercy flights. One women needed a cornea transplant. This required the fastest transportation possible to San Francisco where the operation would be performed. She agreed to stand by, day-by-day, until a cornea became available. When it did, she rushed the patient to Los Angeles International Airport for a quick transfer to Pacific Southwest Airlines for the flight to San Francisco. *


Pinky passed away of pneumonia, at the age of 98.

Services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, January 24, 2008, in the Valley View Chapel, Montecito Memorial Park, 3520 E. Washington St., Colton. Interment will follow in the park.

Obituary --San Bernadino County Sun
Obituary --San Bernadino Press Enterprise

posted Jan. 24, 2008