Explore Palm Springs: Zaddie Bunker

Her efforts led to many Palm Canyon Drive buildings



Zaddie R. Bunker (right), nicknamed the “Flying Grandmother,” prepared to take her first solo flight in August of 1951.

Courtesy of the Palm Springs Historical Society

 

Zaddie Bunker arrived in Palm Springs in 1913 sporting denim coveralls and some knowledge of how to repair automobiles.

Zaddie and her husband, Ed, moved from San Jacinto and opened Bunker’s Garage in 1914. She got her first truck and immediately bought a mail route and began hauling tons of mail and freight from the Seven Springs train station into the village of Palm Springs.

She purchased land on Palm Canyon Drive, when it was called Main Street, and was responsible for many of the residential and downtown buildings including a motion picture theater being built. She was a woman that was well known to friends and family as having an adventurous spirit.

In this photograph, Zaddie R. Bunker, nicknamed the “Flying Grandmother,” prepared to take her first solo flight in August of 1951. She started her first flying lesson at the age of 62.

At 65, she won her wings, and at 71 she broke the sound barrier in an Air Force F100 Super Sabrejet. When her advanced age for a new pilot was brought up in conversations, Zaddie would quote Fred Smith, a test pilot with North American Airlines, who told her that no one is too old to learn to fly.

As Palm Springs celebrates its 75th anniversary, there are a multitude of ways to learn more about this desert treasure. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring the city’s history.

Weekly, the Palm Springs Historical Society will share a story whose time and place corresponds with today.

The Palm Springs Historical is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive. For more information, visit www.pshistoricalsociety.org

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