When history flew over Rockford; aviators have been challenging Rockford skies since 1855.

Rockford aviation history dates back to August 14, 1855, when balloonist  Silas M. Brooks ascended into the sky with a balloon, the “Comet,” sewn for him by Rockford women. Bessie Faith Medlar Raiche became the first woman aviatrix in America when she flew in 1910. Fred Machesney and Bert R. J. “Fish” Hassell, Parker “Shorty” Cramer, Admiral George J. Dufek,  four-star General Laurence S. Kuter, Major General Fred J. Ascani, Brigadier General Lewis Stocking, Elizabeth “Libby” Gardner and Ben Abruzzo are some of the names from Rockford aviation history. Source: Rockford Register Star, May 13, 1997, written by Julie Snively.

‘Proud link to Rockford,’ Muralists rediscover female WWII-era pilot history nearly forgot

Muralists Jenny Roesel Ustick and Atalie Gagnet discovered Elizabeth “Libby” Gardner’s story while researching for the Rockford CRE8IV art festival. Gardner, a 1939 graduate from Rockford High School, flew for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) during World War II. The WASP Archive at Texas Woman’s University provided a photo of Gardner in a B-26 Marauder. The mural at 221 E. State Street is based on the photo. Source: Rockford Register Star, May 19, 2019

Lands First Plane on New Camp Field

On December 31, 1947, Frank Lindgren flew his Piper Cub from Franklyn field in Cherry Valley to the new Greater Rockford Airport, becoming the first pilot to land at the new airport. The Camp Grant land had been formally turned over to the airport authority by the war assets administration. Rockford Morning Star, Jan. 1, 1948

“Hotels lose without Waterfront, Airfest” – 2013


3 sections below

Source: Rockford Register Star 8/11/2013



Anthony A. Castrogiovanni Jr. – 2010, from obituary

Resides 1519 Montague St.  Source:  1937 Rockford City Directory

89, died Saturday, July 17, 2010 at his home.  Born Aug. 20, 1920, oldest son of Joseph and Rose (Buscemi) Castrogiovanni.

Married Fran Dodaro. 65th Anniversary, June 17, 2010.

He is survived by his wife, 3 daughters; Roz Hill, Carla (John) Cox, and Fran (Jim) Knutson; 6 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.

From their beginning at Sanitary Meat Market on S. Main St., Tony, his father, his uncle and three brothers built Hilander Foods

into a regional institution that they operated for nearly 80 years.

Coast Guard, World War II.

Pilot’s license, Cessna 172.

Holy Family Catholic Church, Fitzgerald Funeral Hone, St. Mary’s/St. James Cemetery.


Source: Rockford Register Star, 7/18/2010. Also in Rockfordiana: Biographies CAR-CAZ 1967 – Date

Rockford Police Relief Association, 42nd Biennial Ball – 1986, p 49

Source:  Rockford Police Relief Association. 42nd Biennial Ball, May 23, 1986, Forest Hills Lodge

Kaney Aerospace, Jeff Kaney – 2018

Source: The Voice, February 2018, Vol. 31, No. 2


“City’s Sons and Daughters Known Across Globe” – 1962 article, 4 pictures



Source: Rockford Morning Star and Rockford Register-Republic “Century Plus 10” Special Edition, March 1962

Famous people from Rockford