CallAir plane played part in birth of a baby in ND winter of ‘49
“Airplanes have given birth to lots of things: new ways of doing business, bringing people and resources together and transforming the Twentieth Century. One particular aspect of that transformation occurred when the CallAir you see in front of you played a part in the birth of a baby,” reads a sign by a plane in the Dakota Territory Air Musem in Minot.
The information is posted on a sign by the 1947 CallAir displayed in the air museum.
“I heard the story all my life. My parents told me the story,” said Patricia Reinert, “the baby” whose expectant mother was flown from a farm in southwest North Dakota to the Dickinson hospital where she gave birth to Patricia. Patricia Reinert said other relatives and neighbors living near their farm also told her that her mother was flown to the hospital when she was born. She and her husband, John R. Reinert, live in Bismarck.
The winter of 1948-49 was a harsh winter with a series of blizzards in North Dakota and other Great Plains states.
“The story of the CallAir helping bring a little baby into the world in the horrible winter of 1949” is one of the remarkable air museum stories, said Glenn Blackaby, director of the air museum who recently retired and moved to Indiana.
“The baby was born in Stark County to Peter and Mary Reiner. That was the winter of ’49 and the roads were just impassable in a lot of places. It was terrible,” Blackaby said in a recent interview.
He said the Reiners called the Dickinson hospital “because it was time for the baby to be born and the hospital got hold of ( pilot) Charlie Wyman.”
“He had skis on his airplane, it was late in the day so it was starting to get dusky so the father took some hay and built a fire not too close but close enough to the house to help guide the pilot in. The pilot landed on skis, picked up the mother, and that would be Mary, and got her to the Dickinson hospital in time to have the baby. The dad had to stay home because there was only enough room on the plane for the pilot and for Mary,” Blackaby said.
He said several years ago, “the baby, whose name is Patricia (Reiner Reinert)” and her husband visited the air museum. Patricia Reinert said they visited the air museum to see the CallAir in 2010.
She told the Minot Daily News on Wednesday that the National Guard opened up the road ahead of the vehicle that brought her and her mother home from the hospital. But she’s not sure who drove the vehicle. She said her dad couldn’t get off the farm because of all the snow. The Reiner farm is located 21 miles southwest of Richardton.
Patricia Reinert said she was born at “12 noon,” according to her birth certificate, on March 17, 1949 – St. Patrick’s Day. She was named Patricia because she was born on St. Patrick’s Day. But she said she wasn’t baptized until May 8, figuring her baptism was delayed because of all the bad weather.
When she got older she wanted to find out who was the pilot of the plane that flew her mother on the emergency flight to the Dickinson hospital but her parents were killed in a car-truck accident near Hebron when she was 13. She was the sixth of their eight children.
She did extensive research and finally located Wyman’s daughter, Connie Friesz. Through her research Patricia Reinert determined Wyman, of Mott, had flown the CallAir on what were called “mercy flights,” including taking her mother to the hospital.
Friesz told her the CallAir was at the air museum in Minot.
“That’s what prompted her to bring her husband here to get her picture taken in front of that airplane,” Blackaby said.
He said he would tell that story about the CallAir and its role in bringing a baby into the world many times when giving tours at the air museum.
The plane remains an important part of Patricia Reinert’s life and when she was born.
The museum is closed for the season but will reopen in the spring.