At Pierce Brothers Valhalla Cemetery, North Hollywood, California
Grave site of American Aviation Pioneers including
Charles Taylor, the Wright Brothers' Mechanic




Buried beneath the dome of the Portal are the following pioneers of aviation: Bertrand B. Acosta, Walter R. Brookins, Mark M. Campbell, Col. Warren S. Eaton, W. Bertrum Kinner, A. Roy Knabenshue, Elizabeth L. McQueen, John B. Moisant, Matilde Moisant, J. Floyd Smith, Hilder F. Smith, Carl B. Squier, and Charles E. Taylor.


The structure now known as the "Portal of the Folded Wings" was originally built as the entrance to Valhalla Memorial Park in 1924. In 1937, aviation enthusiast James Gillette, was so impressed by the new Burbank Airport and the growing aviation industry, including Lockheed Aircraft, that he envisioned the entrance structure at Valhalla as a "shrine to aviation" honoring the pioneers of flight. The name "Portal of the Folded Wings" was formally bestowed at a ceremony held on December 17, 1953. Lt. General Eaker presided, while other aviation pioneers were in attendance, including Carl Squier. In 1956, Gillette organized a rededication ceremony in which Matilde Moisant placed a wreath on the grave of Walter Brookins. Carl Squier referred to the Portal as the "Westminster Abbey of reverence for the founders of the air age". Others referred to it as the "Arlington of the air" and the "Kittyhawk Monument of the West".

In 1996, Giacinta Bradley Koontz was appointed Director of the Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation and Museum. A Memorial Day ceremony held on May 27, 1996 officially re-dedicated the Portal.

The "paper display" museum at the Portal was open free to the public during regularly scheduled hours, or by appointment. "The Pioneer Room" honored the aviation pioneers buried beneath the Portal dome. The "Restoration Room" documented the preservation of the sculpture and building from 1995-1996, and The "Burbank Aviation Museum" Room highlighted Lockheed Aircraft, the Burbank Airport, and other local aviation history.


A brief mention of their most noted achievements...

BERTRAND B. ACOSTA (1895-1951) Acosta was Co-pilot with Adm. Richard Byrd on his flight from New York to France in 1927 in a Fokker airplane called "America" which landed in the sea before reaching Paris. He and Byrd lived to fly again.

Further information:



WALTER R. BROOKINS (1889-1953) Brookins flew for the Wright Brothers exhibition team. By 1910 his sensational flights included the Gordon Bennet Cup speed race at Belmont Park in New York in which he crashed his Wright Baby Racer biplane. The Brookins/Lahm/Wright Aeronautical Foundation is named for him. He is the first to be buried at the Portal.

Further information:


MARK M. CAMPBELL (1897-1963) Campbell was a stunt pilot, parachute expert, and aircraft designer. With R.O. Bone in Inglewood, CA, he built the first Golden Eagle plane. This was a single place monoplane, later adapted to a two-seater, which Bobbi Trout flew in a number of record breaking flights. Further information:

COL. WARREN S. EATON (1891-1966) In 1910 Eaton and his partner Prof. Twining were the first members of the Aero Club of California to build a monoplane which flew. Eaton built airplanes for dare-devil pilot Lincoln Beachey and was later General Manager of the Chaplin Air Line which flew Curtiss sea planes to Catalina. Further information:

W. BERTRUM KINNER (1882-1957) Kinner was building "America's foremost sport plane" the Kinner Airsters, by 1919. He owned airplane and motor manufacturing companies in Glendale, Downey, and Long Beach. Amelia Earhart's first plane was a Kinner Airster.

Further information:


A. ROY KNABENSHUE (1876-1960) Knabenshue was a balloon and dirigible pilot who raced against Lincoln Beachey in the Dominguez Air Meet of 1910. All Los Angeles came to see Roy steering from the catwalk of his 80 foot long airship.

Further information:




ELIZABETH L. MCQUEEN (1878-1958) McQueen was founder and President of the Women's International Aeronautical Association. Her life's objective was "Peace by Air". Further information:

JOHN B. MOISANT (1868-1910) John Moisant, brother to Matilde Moisant, won the Statue of Liberty Race in 1910 at Belmont Park. He was the first American to carry a passenger across the English Channel in his monoplane, and designed the first all metal aircraft.

Further information:



MATILDE J. MOISANT (1878-1964) Matilde Moisant was the second licensed female pilot in the United States in 1911. She took flying lessons with Harriet Quimby. Matilde set several altitude records and was the first woman to fly an aeroplane into Mexico City in 1912. She was a member of the Early Birds, Ninety-Nines and Blue Yonder Fliers.

PayPal: PayPal carding method





J. FLOYD SMITH (1884-1956) Floyd Smith was a test pilot and instructor for Glenn Martin. From 1919 until retirement in 1942 he manufactured parachutes of his own design. He and his wife, Hilder, flew passengers around Griffith Park for a small fee. Further information:

HILDER F. SMITH (1890-1977) In 1907 Hilder was an aerial acrobat in her husband Floyd's flying circus. She earned her own pilot's license and also parachute jumped from a plane flown by Glenn Curtiss over Los Angeles Harbor in 1914. Further information:

CARL B. SQUIER (1893-1967) Squier won the Croix de Guerre as an army aviator in France during WWI. He was a barnstormer, test pilot and salesman. His own company manufactured seaplanes. As Vice President of Lockheed Aircraft Company, Squier sold Charles and Anne Lindbergh their Sirius airplane for their 1931 Polar route flight. Further information:

CHARLES E. TAYLOR (1868-1956) Taylor was the machinist for the Wright brothers, helping to design and build the first motor for their Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk. He was Cal Roger's mechanic on the Vin Fiz, and later became an aeroengineer. Further information:

REV. JOHN CARRUTHERS Also buried with these pioneers, are aviation historian and the Chaplin for the Portal of the Folded Wings in 1953, Rev. John Carruthers. Reverend Carruthers donated his extensive collection of aviation books and documents to Harvey Mudd College in Claremont. Along with James Gillette and Mrs. Walter Brookins he was instrumental in forming the Brookins/Lahm/Wright Aeronautical Foundation (no longer active). Further information: “Carruthers Special Collection,” Sprague Library, Harvey Mudd College

Many of these pioneers belonged to and/or were officers of aviation associations such as the Early Birds, the Silver Wings Fraternity, the OX-5 Club, the Aero Club, the 99s, the Blue Yonder Fliers, and others.

Copyright 2011 Portal of the Folded Wings