Ann Dearing Holtgren Pellegreno


Ann Dearing Holtgren Pellegreno

"She has never pursued riches or fame, only seemingly impossible goals. Very lofty and difficult ones."
—Patricia Bliss, 2001


Ann Dearing Holtgren Pellegreno has been a professional musician, teacher, author, lecturer, and farmer. In 1960, on the day she obtained her private pilot’s license, she took her mother up for a flight as her first passenger, a surprise because Mrs. Holtgren was not aware that her daughter had learned to fly. Within five years, Pellegreno obtained a commercial pilot’s license to which she added ratings for instrument, multi-engine, and flight instructor for airplanes and instruments. On June 9, 1967, she and a crew of three took off from Oakland, California, in a twin-engine Lockheed 10, a sistership to that flown by Amelia Earhart on her fateful world flight in 1937. Exactly thirty years later Pellegreno found Earhart’s flight-planned destination – tiny Howland Island – dropped a wreath, and returned to Oakland on July 7th, completing the 28,000-mile commemorative flight. In 1974 Pellegreno was appointed to the Aeronautics Commission, the first woman thus serving in Iowa, and also to the Iowa Department of Transportation Commission, the first woman in the nation to serve in that capacity. Pellegreno was inducted into the Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame (1990), the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame (1991), and the Experimental Aircraft Association – Vintage Aircraft Association Hall of Fame (1997). Her first book, World Flight, the Earhart Trail, was published in 1971. The first two volumes of her trilogy Iowa Takes to the Air were published in 1980 and 1986. She was born in Chicago, Illinois. Pellegreno was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2001.