Dorothy Rungeling was born in 1911 and raised in Fenwick, Ontario, by her adopted mother, Ethelwyn Wetherald. After graduating high school, she attended Fort Erie business College. She worked briefly in Toronto and then Hamilton, but eventually took a job with Brown Brothers’ Nursery in Pelham to be closer to home. Dorothy pursued many interests, learning to play the violin, saxophone and clarinet. She met her husband Charles at a local dance where she was playing. In 1939, they opened an automobile and farm machinery business in Welland. In their spare time, they were active in skeet and trap shooting, for which Dorothy won many trophies. In the early 1940s, Dorothy developed a passion for horses, training and showing them in addition to teaching riding at the Welland Riding Club, as well as judging at horse shows. By the late 1940s her interest in horses was waning, but she soon after discovered and pursued a new interest: flying. She joined the Welland Flying Club, obtained a flying licence, and in 1949 purchased her first plane. She proceeded to obtain a Commercial Pilot Licence in 1951, an Instructor’s Licence in 1953, and a Senior Commercial Licence in 1954. She participated in many air races in the 1950s, including the All Women’s International Air Races, the Women’s Transcontinental Air Races, and the Canadian Governor-General’s Cup Air Race. Some of the most notable races were the 1954 International Air Race, where Dorothy met with President Batista of Cuba, and the Governor-General’s Cup Air Race, where she won 1st place in 1953 and 1956 (and was the only woman competing). In 1958, she was also the first Canadian woman to solo pilot a helicopter. That same year she obtained her Airline Transport Licence. She also wrote several articles on aviation, contributing to publications such as Canadian Aviation and Air Facts, a U.S. aviation magazine. In addition to these articles, Dorothy authored several books about her life, as well as a selection of poems and articles by Ethelwyn Wetherald. As planes became more expensive, Dorothy spent less time flying, instead pursuing an interest in sailing. She and her husband bought a sailboat and became members of the Niagara on-the-Lake Sailing Club. In 2003, Dorothy was awarded the Order of Canada for her accomplishments. She also wrote a regular column for the Voice of Pelham in 2012-2013, called A Century in Pelham. Dorothy celebrated her 100th birthday in 2011, and remains an active member of the community.

Click here to view the Dorothy Rungeling fonds finding aid:

Recent Submissions

  • Sailing Journal, 1966-1968 

    Rungeling, Dorothy (1966)
    Dorothy Rungeling's sailing journal which covers from 1966 to 1968 with outlines of the daily activities. The journal also includes Trip expenses and meal options.
  • Horsemanship Notes 

    Rungeling, Dorothy (1940s)
    Notes or an essay from Dorothy Rungeling's time in horsemanship classes in the 1940s. The notes/essay is three pages in length and is focused on the "head and neck" of a horse. She mentions the "schooling" of a horse, ...
  • Welland Air Show Flyer 

    Unknown author (1952-07-05)
    A flyer for the 1952 Air Show at the Welland Airport. The Welland Airport is to be the final arrival point for the All Women International Air Race the date of 5 July 1952.
  • Article - "And there I was", 1952 

    Rungeling, Dorothy (1952-05-11)
    An article that was originally published in Air Facts in 1951, is published again in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in 1952. In the scrapbook kept by Mrs. Rungeling, there is a typwritten note that explains the events ...
  • Photograph - Dorothy Rungeling with Plane (Pacer 125), 1954 

    Unknown author (1954)
    A photograph of Dorothy Rungeling in front of a plane (likely the second plane she owned). This photograph later appeared in the Canadian general interest magazine "Saturday Night". Mrs. Rungeling was featured in the ...
  • Letter - Mayor Armour L.McCrae to The Ninety-Nines, Inc., 

    McCrae, Armour L. (1954-04-09)
    A letter written by Mayor of Welland, Armour L. McCrae, to The Ninety-Nines (International Organization of Women Pilots), recommending Mrs. Dorothy Rungeling for the Amelia Earhart Scholarship. The letter reads: "Dear ...
  • Article - "Senior Commercial Pilot's Licence For Mrs. Rungeling", 1954 

    Unknown author (1954-08-19)
    The article discusses the recent acquisition of a senior commercial pilot's licence for Mrs. Dorothy Rungeling. She is one of only three women, at the time, to hold this licence. The process for acquiring the licence is ...
  • Article - "Fenwick Housewife Wins National Air Show Race", 1953 

    Unknown author (1953)
    The article discusses the 1953 Governor-General's Cup win for Mrs. Dorothy Rungeling at the National Air Show. There were nine other pilots competing in the race.
  • Article - "Fenwick Flier Finishes Fifth", 1953 

    Unknown author (1953-06-15)
    The article is focused on the fifth place finish of Mrs. Dorothy Rungeling. The article speculates that "The local entrant would have placed second had she not been grounded by bad weather causing her to lose 40 minutes ...
  • Results for 1953 Women's International Air Race 

    Unknown author (1953)
    A result list for the 1953 All Women's International Air Race. The list has four columns: Name, Plane Flown, Hand mph. and Time made plus or minus - plus is less than hand minus more than hand. At the end of the result ...
  • Article - "Fonthill Woman Among 21 Pilots in Welland - Florida Air race", 1953 

    Unknown author (1953-05-15)
    An article in The St. Catharines Standard that discusses the upcoming sixth all-women's international air race from Welland, Ontario to New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Mrs. Rungeling will be accompanied by Beverly Belfry of ...
  • The Pelican - Official Line-Up of All Women's International Air Race 

    Unknown author (1953-06-11)
    A listing of the pilots competing in the All Women's International Air Race, 1953.
  • Dorothy Rungeling in Sixth All Women's International Air Race, 1953 

    Unknown author (1953-05-15)
    A newspaper clipping from The Globe and Mail, 15 May 1953, that reads: "In Florida Flight - Twenty-one planes are expected to participate in the Welland, Ont., to New Smyrna Beach, Fla., June 11. First definite Canadian ...
  • Aviation Writing Award Winners, 1953 

    Unknown author (1953)
    A photograph and caption for the Aviation Writing Award winners of 1953. There are eleven winners pictured and Dorothy Rungeling is the only female.
  • Photograph - Dorothy Rungeling and Governor-General's Silver Cup, 1953 

    Unknown author (1953)
    A photograph of Dorothy Rungeling with the Silver Cup, the caption reads "Dorothy Rungeling, Canadian woman flier, holds Governor-General's Silver Cup, which she won, as well as a cheque for $500 for winning the ...
  • Photograph - Dorothy Rungeling with Husband Charlie and Son Barry, 1953 

    Unknown author (1953)
    A photograph of Dorothy Rungeling with husband Charlie and son Barry with the winning trophy of the Governor General's Cup Air Race, Toronoto, 1953.
  • Article - St. Catharines Standard post race, 7 July 1952 

    Unknown author (1952-07-07)
    A photograph and brief comment about the race results for Dorothy Rungeling. She is photographed next to George Belfry of Thompson Products (sponsor), Alice Little (co-pilot) and radio broadcaster Rex Stimers.
  • Photograph - Dorothy Rungeling with Airplane sponsored by Thompson Products, 1952 

    Titley, Bert (1952)
    A photograph of Dorothy Rungeling in front of her airplane sponsored by Thompson Products in the 1952 All Women's International Air Race from St. Augustine, Florida to Welland, Ontario.
  • Third Annual All-Women's International Air Race Flight Log, 1951 

    Rungeling, Dorothy (1951)
    A chart of Dorothy Rungeling's flight landings and departures during the Third Annual All-Women's International Air Race in 1951.
  • Article - "Canadians in Air Race", 1951 

    Unknown author (1951)
    An article clipping discussing the four Canadian women entered in the third annual All Women's International Air Race in 1951.

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