Gladys Bramhall Wilner, Pioneering aviatrix, pilot, a nurse, a parachute jumper and an archaeologist

After the record run across the Pacific in 1931, the Bellanca J-300 also known as “Miss Veedol” was sold to a group of backers including one Dr. Leon Pisculli, who recruited pilot William Ulbrich and copilot Gladys Bramhall Wilner for a record New York to Rome flight.

Plans for the flight included a flyover of Florence, Italy, where Wilner was to parachute to the ground in honor of Florence Nightingale, as Wilner was a pilot, a nurse, and a parachute jumper (apparently the only such woman then in existence.) After Wilner dropped the project, a dancer Edna Newcomber replaced her. The Miss Vedol, renamed the American Nurse, departed Floyd Bennett Field for Rome in June, 1932. It was never heard from again.

As of 2009, Gladys Bramhall Wilner, aged 98,  , pioneering aviatrix, archaeologist, dies at 98.  Gladys Bramhall Wilner, who flew air races against Amelia Earhart and later dug for evidence of early human habitation in America, died Friday June 3, 2009.  She was 98.  Mrs. Wilner, who was known as Peggy, was born in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania.  She trained as a nurse and worked in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  In the early 1930’s she learned to fly after only two hours’ instruction.  She held the first Parachute Rigger License ever earned by a woman, number 192, in 1931.  In the early 1930’s she competed in air races and flew air shows, including the all-woman Annette Gipson Air Race in 1934 at Roosevelt Field, New York (Amelia Earhart won).  In 1932 she was recruited to fly nonstop to Rome from Floyd Bennett Field in New York.  The Bellanca airplane to be flown was named the American Nurse, in honor of Mrs. Wilner, who was the only woman available who was a nurse, a pilot, and parachute jumper.  Scheduled to parachute over Florence, Mrs. Wilner eventually declined to participate (the American Nurse was lost at sea during the attempt).  In later years Mrs. Wilner earned degrees in archaeology from the University of Texas and did field work on early human habitation in the Americas, finding possible evidence that humans inhabited North America earlier than the widely accepted date of 11,000 B.C.  Formerly married to the late Albert Wilner, Mrs. Wilner is survived by her daughter Nadine Beezley of Tucson, Arizona, her son, attorney Norwood S. Wilner, of Jacksonville, Florida, and six grandchildren.  The Times-Union, Jacksonville, FL, 8 July 2009.

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