Pioneering Cherokee aviator dies
Madine Pulaski, accomplished pilot and Cherokee citizen, died on Feb. 27 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Madine Waltrip was born on July 19, 1936, in Eldon, Okla. She grew up at July Springs.
In eighth grade she moved to California, graduated from Roseville High School, and attended Sierra College where she was a home economics major and member of the downhill ski team.
In 1957 she embarked on her flying career by working for TWA as an in-flight hostess, initially based out of Chicago and then later out of Los Angeles.
Pulaski went on to obtain a multitude of ratings, including instrument, commercial, multi-engine, flight instructor and ground instructor. She was a founding member
of the Orange County Chapter of the 99s. She worked as a flight instructor, and a charter, cargo and bush pilot. Her flying took her all over the continental United States, Hawaii and Mexico and included places such as New Guinea, Australia, and the Dead Sea.
In 1968 she married Dennis Carpenter. She supported him in two terms in the California Senate and was invited to dine at the White House by Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan.
In 1969, she and Carpenter bought a farm on Caney Creek downstream from where she grew up and then began to split time between California and Oklahoma, flying back and forth in her plane.
She provided consulting for Air Cal. She did public relations work for the airline and was sponsored by them in air races, including Powder-Puff Derbies, the Vixen Frisk, which she won in 1969, and Palms-to-Pines races.
At the urging of the Commission of the Californias and then Lt. Gov. Mike Curb, she was instrumental in establishing the Long Beach to La Paz International air race for women. Later, she was appointed to the California Civil Aeronautics Board by then Gov. Ronald Reagan - the first woman to hold that position.
In 1977 she directed the restorative construction and reopened the Tailholt store, an old general store near Tahlequah, Okla., which was once owned and operated by her great-grandparents. She also started an advertising business called Favorite Locals.
The On Madine's Wings Foundation was created in her honor. The foundation is group of volunteers who are committed to honoring and preserving the spirit of Pulaski through community service technology and general aviation.
"She was very proud of her Cherokee heritage and was always supportive of the nation," husband Rolly Pulaski said.
"Madine grew up in the Tailholt community and dared to have big dreams," Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith said. "She had courage and spirit, and she was a great adventurer. She also had a gift for bringing people together and was an inspiration and mentor to many young people."