Elmer Wisherd was born in the pothole region in north central North Dakota in 1920. When he was just a few months old, his parents loaded their six children, possessions, and livestock into a few rail cars and moved to northern Wisconsin. Elmer grew up on the family farm where his fascination with aviation began. One day, while plowing a field with a team of mules, Elmer became distracted by a plane circling nearby. When he looked down again, the mules were cutting across the freshly plowed furrows and heading directly for the barn.
Elmer’s military career began after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He became a troop carrier crew chief on a C-47 in the 91st Troop Carrier Squadron, serving in the European Theater. The squadron was tasked with dropping paratroopers and towing gliders into battle zones and delivering supplies to the ground forces. He was involved in seven major battles, where their plane, nicknamed “Ruca,” was often hit but always managed to land safely.
After WWII, Elmer’s aviation career continued as a mechanic, flight instructor, and crop duster before becoming the first FBO (fixed base operator) at Rusk County Airport near Tony, Wisconsin. At the start, the airport consisted of a sod runway, a wind sock, and three tie-downs. Through sheer determination, Elmer and his wife, Floy, developed the airport into a thriving business.
Clear the Prop: Memoirs of a WWII Troop Carrier Crew Chief & Life-long Pilot sweeps through decades of aviation history. The stories of planes flying upside down, crash landings, forced landings, miracle landings, and planes exploding in fiery infernos combine with the many fascinating people Elmer has known during his remarkable career.
At his first book signing at the Ladysmith (WI) Public Library in January, Elmer learned all about writer’s cramp after signing books continuously for nearly three hours. We wish Elmer the best of luck with Clear the Prop!