An Aviatrix’s Legacy — Joan Trefethen Alford | Aviation


By Tina Trefethen.

Joan Trefethen Alford, EAA 1019, 1927 – 2024.

Joan considered herself extremely lucky to have lived in America’s golden age of aviation that embraced freedom and experimentation. Her friends in early air racing were responsible for designing the top-performing aircraft of their day, and a normal working family could afford to participate in making aviation history — that’s what EAA has always been all about. Private pilots (uninsured and minimally regulated) retained as many rights to our airports and airspace as commercial/military traffic. She never lost hope that flying would stay available, affordable, and fun for everyone!

 Sixteen-year-old Joan started her flight training at Compton Airport, but flying and college were stopped by WWII. She was called on to work as a draftsman for the war effort, though she did get to solo at an air base in Nebraska. Post-war, she took to the air with a passion at 18, flying military surplus aircraft including the Ryan PT-22, Vultee BT-13, NorthAmerican AT-6, and the Cessna UC-78B. Husband Al Trefethen was an Air Corps flight instructor who passed on rigorous training to Joanne at Torrance Airport — that passion lasted another eight decades!

Torrance was a new home for the famous pre-war race pilot Art Chester and his Goodyear racer Swee’ Pea while he was serving as president of the Professional Race Pilots Association. Joan and Al became Chester’s official air racecrew, and both went on to become active racing members of the PRPA. They were instrumental in the civiliandevelopment of TOA, a coastal defense P-38 and P-51 base on the Palos Verdes peninsula of Los Angeles. They also hand-built the first hangars, brought the first commercial business to the field (Nagels Surplus), and in 1953 startedEAA Chapter 11 soon after visiting Ray Stits’ Chapter 1 at Flabob Airport.

New chapters of EAA were encouraged in California to expand Paul Poberezny’s vision and organize the West…

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