By Marguerite Sand
Times-Union Women's Editor
Vivacious and strikingly beautiful Dora Carlin, pictured left, has an important role in the advancement of aviation in Warsaw and surrounding area. Working with her husband Joe, she has seen a pasture field developed until it has become an efficiently run airport, accommodating local business men, flying enthusiasts and transit aircraft.
All members of Dora's family, from Joe to 11-year-old Fritz and Betty Jo, who is seven, are air-minded. Fritz and Betty Jo have been flying since they were babies. Young Fritz, who is a sixth grader at Center Ward, can pilot a plane, operating the dual controls when flying with his father. He is not yet quite tall enough to reach the rudder but time will cure that and by the time he is 16 and allowed to solo, he will have been a veteran for a number of years.
Fritz used to confound adults when at the ripe old age of four he could identify planes. The story is told that one day he visited another airport with his father. After inspecting all the hangars, he returned and ask who owned the Fairchild. There is no Fairchild on the field Fritz was informed. Unimpressed, Fritz took the doubting one to the hanger, and sure enough there was the Fairchild. Few people questioned Fritz following that episode.
Dora who was born in Advance, Indiana and spent most of her youth in Des Moines, Iowa, is the daughter of a Congregational Christian minister. Her parents, Rev. and Mrs. O. B. Rector, live in Muncie. She has two brothers who live at Muncie and Duluth, and a sister, Mrs. Jerry Lessig, of Warsaw. The Rector family moved to Sidney and Dora attended school there her senior year.
It was a year later that Dora met Joe Carlin, whose family also lived near Sydney. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Milton Carlin, and two sisters, Mrs. Vern Ross and Mrs. Lawrence Ross still live in that community. A brother, Loren (Pete) Carlin, lives in Warsaw, another, Winburn, at Goshen and a sister, Mrs. Ann Greewalt at Elkhart.
At the time when Joe and Dora became acquainted, Joe was learning to fly. Six months after they were married he went to Galesburg, Illinois to get an instructor's rating at the regular commercial flight school there. The training proved to be worthwhile. In 1942 with America at war, Joe became a civilian flight instructor, giving primary and basic flight instruction to air corps cadets at Carlson's field, Arcadia, Florida. The three years Joe was at Arcadia, Dora was with him.
As the war progressed there was need for air transport command pilots. Doro returned to Muncie. Joe went to Memphis, Tennessee where he learned to fly heavy twin and four-engine aircraft. Once this training was completed the demand had lessened. He returned to Carlson field, this time training new flight instructors and aerobatics.
Once Japan was defeated, Joe's work was done and he and his family came to Warsaw. Doro said he had always planned to have his own flight service. Starting on a shoestring, and with but one plane a Tailorcraft, Joe went to work for himself at Smith airport, also located on Road 15, north.
It was at Smith airfield that Dora became interested. Because Joe's work demanded long hours, there was little time for the family to be together. Joe needed help and so it was that the business became a family enterprise. Doro laughed when she recalled how they would each day, gather Fritz' baby paraphernalia together, including a playpen and take off for the airport.
At first Dora did general office work: kept records. When the veterans flight training program was introduced, and as Joe had more and more students, Dora's work increased.
In the meantime city officials were planning a municipal airport. They purchased a site on road 15 north and named it Warsaw Memorial Airport in memory of men who died in service during World War II. In late 1946 and early 1947, runways were graded and the Carlin's moved their business to the city airport.
At first it was not easy. There were no buildings on the grounds. Going to work with a will, Joe build an office building and hanger. This and training approximately 50 veteran student pilots was more than a full-time job. Backing him was Dora, who let Joe handle the flight work, while she did the so-called groundwork which at times included refueling planes. She also learned to fly, soloing that same year. By now they had a fleet of 3 Tailorcrafts and two Cessnas. Things were looking up for this young couple.
In 1948, the city with the financial assistance of the federal government, laid an extensive tile drainage system and surfaced the north-south runway. The other two were seeded. Following these improvements the airport was officially dedicated.
Runway lights and a beacon were installed by Earl Parker, current president of the aviation board. The second night after the lights were put in operation, an army pilot, whose radio had gone out, saw the beacon and landed his twin-engine plane safely. About the same time, an air-ground radio communications system, unicom, was installed. Along with her other duties, Dora mans the radio, talking with incoming pilots, arranging for transportation, relaying messages.
Kenneth Linn, of Warsaw, an aircraft and engine mechanic, has been with the Carlins from the beginning. Max Bumbaugh, of Warsaw, is a flight instructor at the field. Max was Joe's first student to solo. William (Bill) Wagner, Warsaw business man, does commerical pilot work. Bill, an army air force pilot, flew heavy aircraft during World War II.
The airport is a busy place these days. There are now five hangers on the field-some privately owned. There are 28 planes not counting operational ships owned by the Carlins.
As times goes on, air travel will increase and already the Carlins and city officials are looking to the future, planning an expansion program. Warsaw may well be proud of its municipally-owned air field. It is rated the most active small field in the state with daily activity far ahead of any such surrounding ports save metropolitan facilities at South Bend, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Evansville, Terre Haute, etc.
Warsaw Times-Union Saturday March 24, 1956
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