Juanita started flying over 55 years ago at Bettis Field near McKeesport, Pennsylvania. She was often referred to as "The Flying Beautician" because she owned and operated a beauty salon in Clairton, Pennsylvania that supported her early flying adventures. Learning to fly in the early 1940s wasn't an easy task. "Instructors didn't think women had any business flying. One instructor," Juanita said, "would take all the boys flying first. I did a lot of needlepoint waiting to be taken up for a lesson."
During World War II she served with the Civil Air Patrol, flying patrol and coastal missions. When the war ended, she became a ferry pilot for Piper distributors in Panama and Alaska, flying new aircraft from the factory in Pennsylvania to delivery points in such faraway places as Panama, Central and South America, as well as Alaska. She holds the distinction of being the first woman to fly a plane solo from the U.S to Panama. She participated in establishing the flight routing for light aircraft between Lock Haven, Pennsylvania and Panama, flying formation with Col. John C. Adams, Piper distributor for Central and South America at that time.
Juanita made numerous delivery flights of Piper and other aircraft, ranging from 65 hp J-3 Cubs to 450 hp Stinson "Gull Wing". None of these planes were radio equipped, so long solo flights often over dense jungle or open water, had to be navigated by "dead reckoning". During one of these deliveries, flying a Bellanca destined for the Chilean Air Force, Juanita flew into two revolutions in progress! The first rebellion in Salvador started just as she was circling the capitol city to locate the airport and the second was during an invasion of Costa Rica by Nicaragua.
During her flying career as a ferry pilot she delivered a total of 35 aircraft to Panama and South America, 12 Pipers to Alaska including one float plane to Seward, Alaska via over water, inside passage route. She also made 50 deliveries within the USA to the Midwest and two seaplane deliveries to Portland, Oregon.
Juanita is a Life Member of The Ninety-Nines, a member of the "Silver Wings Fraternity" and a member of OX5 which awarded her the Pioneer Woman of the Year award in 1996.
In addition to her Nicaraguan and Panamanian pilot licenses, she holds FAA pilot certificate No. 222547 with airplane, land, sea and glider ratings. She has logged over 6000 hours during her distinguished flying career.