Pinned high on a corner of a bulletin board at the Eunice Municipal Airport is a literal slip of the city’s history.
The event happened more than 40 years ago, but Lynette Loewer remembers it like yesterday.
According to the note accompanying the snippet of Lower’s slip, she on Aug. 18, 1967 became the first woman pilot to solo at the Eunice airport.
That solo came almost 60 years after Harriet Quimby on Aug. 1, 1911, became the first American woman to earn a pilot certificate.
In the days since Quimby, Loewer and another Eunice pace-setter, Dixie Saucier, were flying the skies, woman pilots have been become second-nature. They even pilot space shuttles.
But in the early years, they were an exception, not the rule
Saucier earned her pilot’s license while attending LSU in Baton Rouge in 1945.
Loewer, now 70, and her husband Raynold discussed taking flying lessons before they married. In 1966, they and several others, including Paul Rozas and Gene Christian, took lessons from an instructor who came here from Lafayette.
Customarily, a strip of a man’s shirt was snipped to signify his first solo. Loewer’s solo was a first here for her gender and no one was quite sure what to do, so a piece of her then-blue but now worn and almost pale yellow slip was taken to herald the event.
Both women loved flying but their time in the wild blue yonder was short-lived.
Saucier flew for about two years, Loewer for five before other demands on their time and money began to grow.
Loewer, whose brother, Dr. Edward F. Cramer, Jr. is a retired U.S. Air Force flight surgeon and pilot, flew a Cherokee 140 Piper. “We have an air strip for agriculture purposes by our home,” she said.
Loewer flew back and forth to Lafayette, New Iberia, Monroe, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles.
She belonged to the Lafayette Chapter of 99’s Women’s Aviation Organization, which is a service organization in which women pilots perform and organize fundraisers. Amelia Earhart was its first president in 1929.
Loewer said, “We painted the runway numbers on the Eunice Airport, and once a year there is a Powder Puff Derby air race in different areas in the states.”
She recalls a funny incident where she had to pilot a plane to Lake Charles for a dog’s beauty appointment. “It was Gene Christian’s wife Gennell who called me in a panic, saying that she had to be in Lake Charles with her poodle for a grooming/beauty appointment in one hour. She showed her dog in professional dog shows. She knew she would be late if she traveled by vehicle.”
Loewer quit flying in 1972 when her youngest son was born. She is the mother of three, Sharon Loewer LeBouef of Baton Rouge, Stan Loewer of Eunice and Carlton Loewer of Wyoming. The family farm is off of Hwy. 29 between Eunice and Chataignier.
The Loewers still have a Piper, but it is retired.
Saucier flew a Piper Cub and used her pilot’s license for recreational purposes. Saucier said, “It was $5 for a half hour flight over Baton Rouge. I flew over the campus and over the river, just loving it.”
Saucier always wanted to fly, “It’s so free to be up in the air flying.”