WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH TRIBUTE: BETTY HOLMES
Mable Elizabeth Holmes,
affectionately known as “Miss Betty”
1925 – 2004
Since March is Women’s History Month, we would be remiss if we did not spotlight Augusta’s First Lady of Aviation, Miss Betty Holmes.
Betty’s love of aviation started in 1943 at the North Augusta Airport where she watched her brother learn to fly. Not to be outdone by her sibling, she learned to fly under Buster Boshears, Sr., and earned her private rating in 1945.
Her first cross country solo was far from uneventful. Without a map in hand, she took off from North Augusta to Statesboro and managed to find the field. After fueling in Statesboro, she headed out for Orangeburg, the next planned leg of her flight. Before she could land at her intended destination, the fuel gage dropped to empty, forcing Betty to land in an open field. She drew a curious crowd from the town and a local farmer took her into town to get gas. The farmer and another man who claimed he knew the way to Orangeburg accompanied Betty on her next leg. Soon after takeoff, the engine threw a rod, forcing them to land in a corn field. She returned home in a car on her first cross country solo. Not letting the events from that flight shake her from her dreams, Betty pushed forward and obtained her private, instrument, commercial, flight instructor and certified ground instructor ratings over the years.
Logging as much airport bum time as she possibly could at the North Augusta field, she learned most of the tasks required to operate an airport until finally Buster Boshears, Sr. hired her to handle all the paperwork. Her new bosses were the Boshears brothers: Buster and Forest.
In 1947, the Boshears brothers purchased a bankrupt business where Daniel Field is today, as well as an aviation business in Statesboro. They moved the business operations to Daniel Field and managed both airports by sending Betty on her daily runs to pick up the records, bills and deposits in an Aeronca Chief. The boys manning the control tower at Daniel Field (which also served as the commercial airport for passenger service at the time) would call out, “Here she comes!” Betty had been known to ground loop the aircraft a time or two…
Over the years, Miss Betty was the face of Augusta Aviation at Daniel Field. Her official title was Office Manager; however, she was so much more than that to the flight students who learned to fly here. Her encouragement, personal aviation stories, and genuine care about these students are what enabled so many of them to keep flying and achieve the ratings they have today!
Miss Betty was an aviation historian and spent hundreds of hours chronicling newspaper clippings, pictures, letters, and notes relating to aviation as far back as 1910. She left us with her photo albums which are a treasure trove for any aviation history buff.
Betty Holmes left an aviation legacy. She was an elegant, gracious woman who played a critical role in sustaining aviation in Augusta for 5 decades. Among her notable roles in aviation outside of this airport are Personnel Officer of Augusta Squadron Civil Air Patrol, member of the Ninety-Nines, secretary of the Georgia Aviation Trades Association, treasurer of the Boshears Memorial Fly-In, director of the Boshears Memorial Fly-In Aviation History Tent, honored as the “First Lady of Aviation in Augusta”, recipient of the Boshears Memorial Fly-In Aviator of the Year Award, and recipient of the Civil Air Patrol’s Frank G. Brewer awards, (Georgia Wing and Regional) for contributions to Youth in Aerospace Activities.