Brier, who also flew noncombat missions during World War II as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, died Jan. 20 of pneumonia at Redlands Community Hospital in Redlands, Calif., said her niece Victoria Pinckert Rafa.
She learned to fly from a co-worker at the Southern California Gas Co. in the 1930s and then married her instructor, Air Force pilot Joe Brier, in 1939. The same year, she became the first woman to receive an airplane instructor's license under the newly established Civil Air Authority, according to an Air Force history of women in aviation...
She did her part to promote [flying] by landing her plane in the middle of Redlands Boulevard on May 19, 1938, to mark the advent of airmail in Redlands. She reportedly tied up traffic for hours.
With her husband serving in the military during World War II, Brier joined the WASP program and ferried warplanes to air bases within the United States.
She "relished the opportunity to fly military aircraft," including B-17s, and trained military pilots, said Wilfrid C. Lemann, her attorney and longtime friend.
In the 2002 book "The Powder Puff Derby of 1929," author Gene Nora Jessen wrote that the Briers' "busy, grass strip airport . . . exemplified the heart and soul of aviation's postwar development in the U.S.
"Pinky flew charter, and Joe kept the airplanes under repair -- a man with a magical ear for a sick engine. Pinky advertised that she would fly anywhere at any time, and she did," Jessen recalled.
Long before commuter airlines were commonplace, Brier flew three short hops a day from Tri-City to Los Angeles International Airport.
"It was not uncommon for Pinky to fly wise guys to Sin City in the afternoon and transport [federal] agents -- who were tailing them -- to Las Vegas that night. . . . Her flights were about the only way to get to Vegas in a hurry," Lemann said....