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'I Flew with Moisant' - 2/14/1954 -

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Gulfport Woman Recalls: ‘I Flew with Moisant’

Dixie, Times-Picayune States Roto Magazine

February 14, 1954

The Eighth Anniversary of flights from Moisant International Airport will be marked unofficially March 16, the date Pan American World Airways was the first to operate commercially out of this field in 1964. Official operations for all airlines serving New Orleans commenced May 1, 1946, at Moisant.

There are few enough living persons who remember the man for whom the airport is named. But Mrs. Elise Gary Lamkin, now 61 years old, of 2111 19th Ave., Gulfport, Miss., is one of the even fewer who can claim, "I flew with Moisant.” Let her tell about it herself:

"I was home from Breneau College in Gainesville, GA at the time. A girl friend called me and asked if I would like to go up in a ‘hydro-aero plane.’ I slipped off to her suite at the old Great Southern hotel and donned her riding habit. Mr. Moisant gave me a pair of goggles, cap and a southwester jacket.

"I was excited to death and thrilled that I was going to take a trip in a plane. We went to the site where the plane was in a big tent (the present small-craft harbor in Gulfport). I was strapped to the wing. He got in and started the engine and we taxied out into the Gulf for some distance before we got into the air. We then circled around, rather close to the ground, and covered Biloxi and Ocean Springs, and then returned to Gulfport. When we hit that water to land, the water covered us both with spray. The whole trip … lasted about 10 minutes.

"I called my mother over the telephone and she of course heard that I had gone up in an airplane with ‘That Frenchman.’ She was crying so, I told her if she would stop crying, I would come home and make her a lemon pie. When my father, who was at the Elks’ Club heard that I had gone up in the plane, he just fell back in his chair with shock and surprise.”

That was in 1910. The site where Moisant was killed is only about six air miles from the airport which honors him. Work on the actual airport was started Nov. 17, 1941. Formal dedication as a civilian field was made by James H. "Jimmy” Doolittle on a special trip to New Orleans Jan. 12-13, 1946.

John wasn’t the only flying Moisant, incidentally. After his death, his two sisters, Mathilde and Louise, operated a flying school at Hempstead, Long island, despite the fact that they themselves did not hold pilot’s licenses. Late in the year 1911, Mathilde got her license at the Nassau Boulevard air meet that year she climbed to 2500 feet to win the Rodman Wanamaker trophy for the meet’s woman’s altitude record.