The Liberty Gazette
December 17, 2013Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: We left you hanging last week in Part 1 of The Real Rosie the Riveter. Don your parachute, we’re about to take a leap.
Rose Will Monroe, the woman who became the human face of Rosie the Riveter while building B-24s’, worked hard, had a passion for life, and never knew failure, not because she never failed, but because she never gave up. Her daughter, and my good friend, Vickie, inherited that spunk.
Mike: Although she enjoyed learning about flying from her mom, by the time Vickie was out of school she was eager to begin carving her own life. Flying took a back seat, or should I say, Vickie took a back seat. Instead of being up front at the controls, following in her mother’s wake, Rose’s youngest child moved to the back where there was easy access to the door, and began jumping out of airplanes – but not before she’d written a few new chapters in her own story.
After some time in New Mexico that included a horse, a dog, a marriage and a daughter, Vickie found herself a single mom and returned home to Indiana for a restart. She opened a water treatment business and considered earning her pilot license in order to more efficiently reach customers, but then she met a special someone who introduced her to skydiving.
Vickie became enamored with the flying world. Through her new position at the Clark County Airport in southern Indiana that old life she knew as her mom’s became her own, but with a twist – professional skydiving.
With a scholarship from the Ninety-Nines Vickie finally earned a pilot license while continuing to perform at airshows as part of the Aerial Allstars Skydiving Team, one of few people performing a unique night pyrotechnic routine. Control boxes strapped to her arms were wired underneath her jumpsuit, connected to pyro tubes attached to her feet. During a jump she’d monitor the altimeter on her wrist, pressing switches to release fireworks at predetermined altitudes.
Linda: A bus ride while visiting Cancun offered another twist. Wyn Croston, a dashing U.S. Air Force captain, electrical engineer and missile launch officer, took the last open seat on the bus. Exchanging phone numbers led to Wyn’s introduction to skydiving. "And I fell for her," he chuckled as we sat on the porch of the cabin they’re building in Willis. "Our first kiss was during a free-fall jump," Vickie chimed in.
These days Wyn and Vickie use their own plane to fly people and pets in need for Angel Flights, Young Eagles, Challenge Air, and Pilots & Paws.
Vickie reflects proudly yet humbly on her mother’s accomplishments and influence. "Mom was inducted posthumously into the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame for her role supporting the war effort, as Rosie the Riveter," she says with the smile in her soul beaming.
The Rose Monroe Society raised funds to support the National World War II Memorial. At the ground-breaking ceremony Vickie was joined by Colin Powell, Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Dole, and others. When a woman named Mrs. Smith struck up a conversation and asked, "What’s your connection with the Memorial," Vickie told of her famous mother. Mrs. Smith insisted Vickie stay put while she fetched her son, and moments later, FedEx founder Fred Smith was ushered over to shake Vickie’s hand as they discussed the importance of the National Memorial and of leaving a legacy.