Evelyn Pinckert Brier

EVELYN PINCKERT BRIER Pinky Brier has taken her final flight. The pioneer aviatrix -- a contemporary of Amelia Erhardt -- ascended into to the heavens in which she spent so much of her earthly life, on Jan. 20, 2008. The well-known San Bernardino resident was nearly 99 when she passed away at Redlands Community Hospital.

Born Evelyn Pinckert, on April 12, 1909, in Medford, WI, "Pinky" had a life-long passion for aviation. She worked her way through flight school and paid for plane rentals by working at the Gas Company while a high school student. The effort paid off.

She became the first American woman licensed to be a flight and aeroba tics instructor. Pinky claimed to have logged some 70,000 hours in the air and also holds the record for the most take-offs and landings at LAX. Pinky was among the first women to be invited to join the Women's Air Force Service Pilots in the World War II era and flew many military aircraft including B-17's.

She purchased Tri-City Airport in San Bernardino in 1938, expanding it and creating a burgeoning business on the site. She took pride in the fact that there were never any accidents or crashes at her airport. Tri-City was owned in the 1930's by Joe Briar. The Army Air Corps pilot, became her husband. When health problems grounded him, she became the sole family pilot, and he was her ground crew.

In 2004 the woman who loved to fly and to encouraged other women to take to the skies, formed the Brier Foundation. It provides scholarships to young women interested in careers in aviation and other forms of transportation.

She is survived by Victoria Pinckert Rafa of Newport Beach, CA, Julie Pinckert of Los Angeles, Erny Pinckert of So. Calif., Rick Pinckert of Los Angeles, Warren Pinckert, Jr. on Concorde, CA, Tony Pinckert Bancroft of Capistrano Beach, CA, Byron Pinckert of Long Beach, CA, Sandy Pinckert of Sequim, WA; great nephew, Dr. Victor Rafa of Rancho Santa Margarita, as well as several other great-nieces & great-nephews.

Pinky Brier will be laid to rest Thursday, at Montecito Memorial Park, 3502 E. Washington St., Colton. A reception will follow.

Published in the San Bernardino Sun on 1/23/2008.