WILNER Gladys Bramhall Wilner, 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 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 an 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. Please Sign the Guestbook @ Jacksonville.com
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Published by Florida Times-Union from Jul. 7 to Jul. 8, 2009.