Canadian Aviatrix #28 – Louise Mitchell (1890-1986)
Elizabeth Louise MacLeod Mitchell was born 3 October 1890 in Pittsburgh to Kier Mitchell (an attorney) and Margaret Magee (the daughter of a judge).
Margaret died in 1894, aged only 33, and by the 1900 census, Louise was living with her maternal grandparents. Sadly, her grandmother died in 1902 and her grandfather in 1909 – suffering a stroke while watching a baseball game. By 1910, Louise was living with her uncle Christopher and his family.
Louise left America in 1915 to spend the war nursing with the Red Cross in England. She also entertained the soldiers with her “newly-developed talent for amateur theatricals”. In 1918, she got engaged to Lieutenant-Colonel John Steven Jenkins – a Canadian surgeon from Prince Edward Island, who had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his medical work in the Somme. The couple were married in London on 30 October.
They moved to Jack’s home of Upton Farm, Charlottetown, PEI, where Jack worked as a doctor and they started a family. The couple were both aviation enthusiasts and thought that an airport would be valuable for treating critically ill patients in the area. In 1931, they donated 125 acres of land to be used as an airport and paid for most of the construction themselves.
On 8 March 1932, Louise passed her flying test and received PPL #973, making her the 28th female pilot in Canada and the first from Prince Edward Island. She was 41 years old.
Photo: The Tatler (April 3, 1918)
Louise bought a plane and requested that it had the registration mark “PEI” in honour of her adopted home. In 1932, she helped Captain James A Mollison (Scottish pioneer aviator and husband of Amy Johnson) in the PEI portion of his east-to-west solo transatlantic flight.
According to Shirley Render, Louise’s final flight in her plane was in November 1932. Jack was seriously ill, so she only flew a few times in 1933, then stopped all together.
Jack died in 1972, then Louise moved to Old Lyme, Connecticut. She died in 1986, aged 95.