Monday, April 20, 2009

WASP Marion Schorr Betzler Brown, 43-W-2

WASP Marion Schorr Brown passed away April 20, 2009 due to complications of heart disease.

To truly share her life, the following is posted from her own words -- pp. 50-51 of WASP Betty Turner's "Out of the Blue and Into History:"

I was born on March 13, 1920 in New Orleans, Louisiana. My interest in aviation was always there. I went to the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, Louisiana, and majored in physical education, and while there, enrolled in the Civilian Pilot Training program. I was a physical education teacher at John McDonogh High School in New Orleans, Louisiana 1940-42, when I received the call to take the physical test to join the WASP.

I was assigned to the 3rd Ferrying Group, Air Transport Command, at Romulus, Michigan. Except for being a co-pilot on SNAFU and B-24 mod trip to Montreal, I ferried the rest of the time throughout the U.S. and Canada. I flew the B-24 and B-24J (the Navy single tail fin after modification in Montreal), PBY-5A, and the C-60 (Loadstar) as co-pilot. First pilot in the AT-9, AT-16 (Canadian version of AT-6), C-47, C-64, PT-26 (Canadian primary trainer) and all Stinson airplanes. I received instrument rating in the DC-2.

Toward the end of the program I married one of the service pilots, Charles Betzler, in March 1944. He was a test pilot for Curtis Wright and later North American Aviation. I lived in Ohio for 30 years.

While there I instructed at Lane Aviation in Columbus. We had two children, Richard and Michael. In Ohio, I was active in the Ninety-Nines and many civic groups. I won the All-Ohio Achievement Award in 1964 and the South Central Section Award in 1980.

I found time for gardening, sewing, and bridge in addition to the regular mother and wife duties. when the children were young, my flying was limited to flying in air races in the summer in the Women's Transcontinental, "The Powder Puff Derby," and the All Women's International Races (The Angel Derby). In the latter I did pretty good.

I won in 1956 from Ontario, Canada to Havana, Cuba in my Luscomb (90 HP fuel Injection). We had to land in Vera Dera Beach, Cuba because Castro was threatening Batista, then on to Havana out over the water. Batista had a reception at the palace. He didn't appear at first but later a large mirrored wall moved and he stepped out. A replica trophy was given to me at the banquet. I also received a large gold trophy that was supposed to be shipped to me (not enough room in the Luscomb to carry it). Castro took over right after that and the trophy never arrived. I placed second the following year to Havana. In order to support these airplanes, I began to fly charter and instruct again.

I married Jack "J.D." Brown in 1974. He had been in charge of transition at Romulus before ferrying across the Hump and throughout Europe. After that time he flew corporate in Texas and Louisiana. We had not seen each other for over 30 years. Besides my sons, I have two grandchildren and one great granddaughter.

On February 1, 1997, I gave up two years as designated pilot examiner for the FAA. During that time most of my flight test came from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and Mississippi areas. I did have some interesting ones though. Among them, a flight instructor renewal from Mexico, a flight instructor reinstatement from Greece, and a private pilot test for a girl from Venezuela.


From her son, Mike, the following emai:now that your good memories, wishes and prayers go with her. Susan and I are preparing to go down to tend to her final affairs and memorial. Since she requested cremation, we will try to arrange a memorial and internment in Hammond, La. within a month. Thank you all for your tender and loving care and friendship for her in this life, may we all reunite in the everlasting.

On a personal note, I met Marion at the Lone Star Flight Museum in 1998, when she was a guest speaker on a panel. She was delightful. We traveled to Marion's home in Hammond, Louisiana in August of 2000 for her Wings Across America interview. Again, she was delightful. What an honor it was to meet her--and to listen to her memories. Since Marion wrote about her winning race to Cuba, I've posted the photo from her scrapbook. No wonder the trophy wouldn't fit in her airplane!
God bless Marion...and her wonderful family,


  1. What an amazing woman! I know that her children, grandchildren and great-grandchild are so very proud of her. It is women like this that allow us such pride in our nation!!! May God richly bless her heritage and the family that will miss her so. You are all in my prayers.

    1. Hi I am her great granddaughter and she is my hero she really is thank you so much for your prayers really means a lot for my grandma to be known!!!

  2. As Marion's son, I am biased, and yes, she and all of the WASP pioneers are an inspiration to us now and in the future. Bless them all and all of the "Rosie The Rivetors" of WWII that pitched in to make this nation and society safer and great.

  3. After getting out of the Navy, I did some commecial training with Marion at Lane Aviation on the GI Bill. She was great and to this day I remember well what she taught me. I went on to become a B747 Captain and was always thankful for knowing Marion.

    She was the ultimate professional.

  4. She was my instructor for my Private Pilot check ride... very nice and interesting... we talked about the Boeing products that she flew as my grandfather worked at Boeing in Wichita during the war. I passed the check ride... that was 4/23/1987 at the Patterson Louisiana Airport.

  5. Thank you for your kind words.

    I have to laugh when I see Patterson mentioned, how it has parallel runways (common), but one is a water runway with a mishap or two history. I have fond memories of this locale as I was working on my float plane rating there.

    Remember to choose your landing site carefully in your lives.
    Marion's son, Mike

  6. I, too, met Mrs. Brown at Patterson for a checkride ... several in fact. I'll always remember her calmly commenting on a rather "creative" NDB course reversal that I did on a multi-engine instrument check ... She smiled and said, "Well, you kept inside the limits..." and off to the office to type up the certificate!
    All of the Nicholls instructors had a warm place for her. Most of us had her signature on our checkouts as well as on most of our students.
    Grand Lady!
    Great to have send us to this website to remind of us Mrs. Brown on Veterans' Day....

  7. Mrs. Brown gave me my private Pilot checkride on August 10, 1996 in Covington, LA. I was in Jackson, MS and I flew down there in Cessna 150. She was an incredible pilot and instructor! She taught me things on that checkride that my regular instructor never taught me. I guess I must have been one of her last checkride students. What an awesome Lady!

  8. Hmm. Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, son Mike was a friend of mine. We had great times together. If you read this Mike, shoot me an email -