Lancaster’s Renowned Aviatrix: Helen Jones Carter

Helen with her dad, Jesse Jones

“I have ambitions to be an aviatrix, to follow the interest of my father…I have a great deal of flying to do before catching up with him.”

Helen Jones Carter (1920-1998) was the eldest daughter of pilot Jesse Jones, aviator, flight instructor, and manager of the Lancaster Airport. She and her two sisters, Jessie and Carolyn, had to learn to fly before they could get a driver’s license. Helen was fifteen when she soloed in a Taylor Cub at the Municipal Airport in October 1935 and soon became known as “Lancaster’s renowned aviatrix.”

As a teenager in the 1930s, Helen was a pioneering pilot and often the youngest at an event. She set a local women’s altitude record by flying to 14,500 feet over Lancaster in 1937. She was frequently in the national news as she flew in air meets around the United States.

Helen was the youngest aviatrix who participated in the National Air Races in Cleveland in 1938 at the age of eighteen. She was asked to participate in the aerial Pageant of Progress to open that event because of her experience with the single blade propeller. She often demonstrated the single blade propeller which her father was helping to develop with Sensenich Brothers in Lititz.

When the United States entered World War II,  Helen served her country as a Naval Air Cadets instructor in Lancaster and taught soldiers and sailors how to fly.

Images from Helen Jones Carter’s scrapbook, MG0383 Jones Family Papers, from the collection at LancasterHistory

Biographical information from Helen Jones Carter’s scrapbook and Krantz, William E. “A History of Aeronautics in Pennsylvania,” Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society ; v. 90, no. 3, pp. 118-189, 1986.

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