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.