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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
Ann Holtgren Pellegreno
Ann Holtgren Pellegreno was born on April 10, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois, to Aba Dearing Holtgren and Clifford C. Holtgren. Ann and her younger sister, Lois, shared many interests such as music, sports, and, of course, flying.
In 1960, Pellegreno took her first instruction in an Aeronca Champ at Young Field near Ann Arbor, Michigan and received a private license in 1961. By 1966, she had gained additional licenses and ratings and was teaching flying and ground school at Gordon Aviation in Ann Arbor. She wrote her own teaching materials based on flying in the local area.
On June 7, 1967, Ann took off from Ypsilanti, Michigan in a twin-engine Lockheed 10, a sistership to Amelia Earhart's, to retrace Earhart's flight path. Others on the flight were Lee Koepke, who had restored the aircraft, and Bill Polhemus, navigator. Bill Payne acted as co-pilot, sharing the flying because there was no autopilot. They arrived over Howland Island on the morning of July 2, 1967, 30 years after Amelia was scheduled to have been there, then continued on, arriving back at Willow Run Airport on July 10, 1967. Pellegreno has shared this once-in-a-lifetime adventure with others at lectures and through books and articles. Her book, World Flight: The Earhart Trail, was published by Iowa State University Press in 1971.
In 1972 Pellegreno began writing Iowa Takes To The Air, a trilogy that begins in 1854. In 1974 she became the first woman to be appointed to the Iowa Aeronautics Commission, serving until 1975. In 1974 she was also appointed a commissioner for the new Iowa Department of Transportation, the first woman in Iowa and the nation to serve in that capacity.
She and her husband, Don, are long-time members of the Antique Aircraft Association and the Experimental Aircraft Association. They have built a Smith Miniplane, and have restored an Aeronca C-3, an Aeronca Chief, a Piper Cub, and the only Fairchild XNQ-1.]
Pellegreno was enshrined on October 26, 1991, for continuously striving to introduce others into aviation through teaching, lecturing, and her books. The 1967 Earhart Commemorative Flight truly represented the spirit of aviation.