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.