Grand County commissioners seek input on renaming the Granby Airport |

Grand County commissioners seek input on renaming the Granby Airport

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, CO Colorado
Emily Howell Warner is featured in the book "Weaving the Winds," which highlights the history of Warner paving the way for women and becoming Amerca's first female commercial airline pilot.

The Colorado Pilots Association is lobbying Grand County commissioners to change the name of the Granby Airport to one that includes the name of a Colorado female aviator who broke through the glass ceiling of commercial airline pilots.

Emily Howell Warner, who has had ties to Grand County for more than 25 years and used the Granby Airport as a base for flight instruction for many years, was the first woman to be hired as a pilot by a scheduled airline 70 years after the Wright Brothers flight. She also became the nation’s first female airline captain who led the first-ever all female airline flight crew, flying for Frontier, then Continental.

In June 2003, with an extensive list of honors, such as becoming an inductee into both the Colorado and National Women’s Hall of Fame – her Frontier Airline captain’s uniform hanging in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum – Warner became the subject of the book “Weaving the Winds, Emily Howell Warner.”

The Colorado Pilots Association’s request to rename the airport after Warner is in support of the 99’s International Organization of Women Pilots.

By renaming the airport after this famous pilot, the Granby Airport would become more prominent on the map, according to Robert Kinney, president of the Colorado Pilots Association.

“Pilots record the places where they land in their log books and are attracted to airports named after famous people,” he wrote in a Jan. 4 letter to county commissioners. “John Wayne Airport in California is a good example. There is a benefit to airport sponsors through tourism, fuel taxes, and food sales.”

Commissioners, however, have not been quick to adopt a resolution renaming the airport after Warner, rather opting to survey members of the community and members of the local Friends of the Granby Airport, of which Warner was a founding member.

Another candidate

Commissioner Nancy Stuart said on Tuesday that another name has surfaced more than once as a possible airport name.

William H. Harrison, deceased longtime local, was instrumental in development of the Granby Airport along with at least two prominent businessmen in the community, Glenn Pharo and Albert “Lefty” Selak, according to community members who remember him.

Harrison was a flying ace in WWII with the U.S. Army Corp, but after a stunt to which the U.S. Government did not take too kindly, he was dishonorably discharged.

“He flew his plane underneath the Royal Gorge Bridge,” said Duane Dailey of Hot Sulphur Springs.

He then continued in the war effort by ferrying planes from the United States to England as a contractor.

After the war, Harrison scratched out a living in Granby as a Golf Oil distributor, worked at an auto shop, repaired TVs and “spent quite a lot of time in the pool hall,” said Jim Childress of Granby.

In the 1950s, Harrison lost his legs in a plane crash.

“It didn’t slow him down a bit,” said Donna, Childress’ wife.

“He was quite a character. He looked like a pilot that was in the comics of those days, like Smilin’ Jack, with a big smile and a mustache. He was a good-looking chap,” Childress said. “He was an adventurous person; he loved to fly.

“When we would have a parade in Granby, he would fly right down main street.”

Once Harrison gave Donna a flying lesson, but his flying was “too wild,” Donna said.

“I want you to know, Bill was a nice guy. He would do anything for anyone in Granby,” Jim said.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.

Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.

If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User