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Aerial Hitch Hiker


While hitch hiking may not be the most popular form of transportation, it is not uncommon to see a lone traveler thumbing his way down one of America's highways. It is, however, rare to see a traveler attempting to bum a ride on an airport runway.

On this date in 1939, the Emmons County Record reported that Eleanor Pogwist had made a surprise appearance in Linton, North Dakota, and it wasn't her timing that made Pogwist unexpected. This traveler hadn't arrived in Linton by the usual mode of transportation; she had arrived by air under the cover of night.

Eleanor Pogwist was the self proclaimed aerial hitch hiker and had been en route to Bismarck from Pierre, South Dakota when her plane had been forced to make an emergency landing. During an interview with the local newspaper, Eleanor told suspicious reporters that her pilot, Alva White, had nearly been forced to crash land in this rural North Dakota town.

Eleanor was seen in Linton wearing flying gear, sans a parachute, and carrying a hand bag filled with life's necessities and various items accumulated through her aerial adventures. Eleanor explained that her goal was to visit every state in the union, supposedly traveling by thumbing for airplane rides across the country. But this was a trip not only for pleasure; she was also traveling for diplomacy, as Eleanor exchanged gifts between governors. She proudly showed off a bottle of Mormon Crickets preserved in alcohol, a gift that Governor Bushfield of South Dakota was sending to Governor Moses of North Dakota. Eleanor also had in her possession a giant red apple which was a gift from the governor of Washington state to be presented to President Roosevelt.

When asked about her plans to leave Linton, Eleanor replied that she would be leaving the same way she had arrived; by air, once Alva's plane had been repaired. Moments later a man entered the Emmons County Record's office and asked Ms. Pogwist if she was ready to leave. This man supplied the aerial hitch hiker with a ride to Bismarck, not by plane, but by car! Upon further investigation, the people of Linton discovered that Eleanor Pogwist had arrived in Linton not by plane but seated comfortably in a Pollock doctor's vehicle.

The aerial hitch hiker left Linton that night leaving many questions unanswered. Was Eleanor Pogwist really who she claimed to be? Had she really arrived in Linton, North Dakota by air? But even if Eleanor had been lying, hitch hiking across America's skies is much more interesting than traveling by car.

by Ann Erling