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Another early aviation witness surfaces

■ Another early aviation observer surfaces


Jennie Bush of Pine Center helped prove the wisdom of that old journalism maxim to be wary of the words “first” and “only.”

After she read Wednesday’s Brainerd Dispatch story in which Walt Straka speculated he might be the only living area person who witnessed the 1929 visit of a Ford Tri-Motor plane in Brainerd, the 91-year-old woman called the Dispatch newsroom Wednesday to let a reporter know she was there in 1929 and is still very much alive.

The daughter of August and Margaret Imm, who homesteaded on Platte Lake in the early 1900s, Bush has lived her entire life within a radius of about 1 1/2 miles near Pine Center. She and her husband, Emil, 96, had a dairy farm near Pine Center and also farmed 300 acres of farm land in South Dakota. Her home, she said, was built in 1878.

“It’s an old log house,” she said.

Bush said her father’s cousin was a wing walker and her dad took the family to see his cousin and the planes. She didn’t fly in the plane but she watched it take off and fly.

“You didn’t see a plane very often then,” she recalled. “I remember dad taking us out there.”

A 1929 Ford Tri-Motor will make another appearance in Brainerd this holiday weekend. Flights started Thursday and run through Sunday at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.

She said she hadn’t decided whether to try to get to the airport to see the classic aircraft this weekend.

“I don’t know if I’ll go or not,” she said.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860