Dakota Datebook

Canfields in flight

Thursday, September 5, 2013

 

Ed and Dorothea Canfield were a husband and wife team famous for their flying careers. Ed started flying in 1921. He lived in the area of Fullerton, North Dakota and took up aviation as a hobby, but eventually flew full-time. In an article he later would write for the National Aeronautic Magazine in the mid-1930s, he wrote about the early flight years. Rather than put his airplane away during the winter, as was the common practice of the time, he advertised to take a passenger on a hunting trip for $25 and got a taker. Later he wrote, “the whole countryside turned out to see us try to take off on this fool’s venture.” It ended up being very successful, as he earned even more money flying additional hunters during the trip. Canfield wrote, “The greatest danger in aviation is the danger of starvation.” Taking off from a snow-covered field had helped him stave off the wolves at the door.

 

In 1928, after he moved to Williston, he met Dorothea, who had become one of his aviation students. They had an “air romance,” and married in 1929. Dorothea Canfield was the second woman in the state to receive recognition as a female pilot, and was one of the first women to hold a transport license. Together, the Canfields engaged in hunting coyotes from the air, transporting hunters and other passengers, patrolling power lines, and generally barnstorming all over the Dakotas. They maintained their slogan, “Our business is up in the air.”

 

More than their business was in the air…so were their children. On this date in 1933, after the birth of their daughter, it was reported that the newest little Canfield took her first air ride on the day of her birth, ten hours after she was born. Her older brother, practically a babe himself, met her on the plane and accompanied her on the flight. Other flight companions were Father Busser, the “flying priest of Grenora,” and two nurses from Mercy hospital in Williston.

 

The Williston Herald reported, “Scores of Williston people last evening noted the Canfield plane in flight over the city. Ed Canfield was giving his new baby daughter her first air ride. She slept through it all and therefore must have enjoyed it.”

 

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker

 

Sources:

The National Aeronautic Magazine, Dec. 1935 (http://www.angelfire.com/ne2/ginnyboo/1935NAM.pdf)

The Divide County Journal, Friday, July 24, 1936

The Williston Herald, Sept. 7, 1933, p4

 

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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