Florence "Tree Tops" Klingensmith - Oak Mound, MN
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member m&m O
N 46° 59.416 W 096° 47.678
14T E 667692 N 5206443
Quick Description: The grave of Florence Klingensmith, who held multiple World Records, can be found at the Oak Mound Cemetery.
Location: Minnesota, United States
Date Posted: 7/17/2020 8:05:44 AM
Waymark Code: WM12V44
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Alfouine
Views: 0

Long Description:
In addition to a model of the Gee Bee Sportster Florence was flying when she crashed there is a plaque on her tombstone. It reads;

September 3, 1904 – September 4, 1933

This monument was erected in June, 2015 in memory of
Florence Edith (Gunderson) Klingensmith – “Tree Tops”
A native of Oak Mound, Minnesota. She became the first licensed female
Aviator (“aviatrix”) in Clay County, Minn. and the state of North Dakota in
June, 1929, and also that year became a charter member of the Ninety-Nines.
After winning the Ameila Earhart Award in 1932 and setting several world
records in women’s aviation, she died when her plane crashed near Chicago
while competing in the Frank Phillips Trophy Race on September 4, 1933.
She was interred in the Oak Mound Cemetery on September 4, 1933
In Lot 22, Grave 3. This monument was planned and dedicated by the
Oak Mound 4-H Club for their 2015 Community Pride Project.
The following individuals and organizations sponsored the construction and
dedication of this monument through labor and/or monetary contributions:
Oak Mound Church, Oak Mound Cemetery Association, Oak Mound School,
Marvin Corneliussen and the Clay County 4-H Federation.
Dedicated on June 14, 2015

According to the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, Florence was born September 3, 1904, on her parents’ small Oakport Township farm. She attended Oakmound School with her sister Myrtle, and brothers George and Roy. Her father, Gust, worked at Oakmound as janitor and school bus driver.

In high school her energy found an outlet - motorcycles - fast ones. Evelyn Gesell: "Oh, you bet she rode motorcycles! I think she was the only girl we knew who did. Some of us more conservative girls, I guess, used to look a bit askance when she would race through the streets on her motorcycle."

The Fargo Forum later claimed she got her first experience with flying on a motorcycle. With her brother George riding on the gas tank, "A tire blew out when the speedometer showed better than 70 miles an hour and Florence went sailing through the air"

In the summer of 1928, Florence's flight instructor E.M. Canfield needed a stunt girl to accompany him on a series of area flying exhibitions. Florence agreed to be that stunt person in return for lessons and she started a new adventure - skydiving. She later wrote "My hands certainly do betray my feelings. To tell the truth I was simply frightened to death."

In June of 1929 Florence became the first women to be licensed as a pilot in this region of Minnesota and all of North Dakota.
Florence Klingensmith, nicknamed "Tree Tops" was a pilot and racer during the "Golden Age of Air Racing" and a founding member of the Ninety-Nines women's pilot group. Florence set several World Records, one for completing 1,078 loops as she flew for over four hours. She was the first winner of the Amelia Earhart Trophy in 1933. Klingensmith was one of the first women to participate in air races with men. She died in an accident during the Frank Phillips Trophy Race at the 1933 International Air Races in Chicago, Illinois.

Date of birth: 9/3/1904

Date of death: 9/4/1933

Area of notoriety: Other

Marker Type: Plaque

Setting: Outdoor

Fee required?: No

Web site: [Web Link]

Visiting Hours/Restrictions: Not listed

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