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PILOT STORIES: Balestier, Elliot Jr.

Air Mail Service Began: May 24, 1921
Air Mail Service Ended: June 17, 1921
Assignment: College Park, Maryland

Elliot Ballestier came to Air Mail Service in 1921 with a recommendation from Charles Ames, a pilot who had joined at the service in 1920. The pair had met on the aerial circuit and flew together occasionally. Balestier listed 507 hours of flying for the Army and 600 hours flying as a civilian pilot.

Balestier was tested in two aircraft, the JH4 "Jenny" and the DH4 de Havilland. His performance in the Jenny did not impress testing pilot Randolph Page, who rated him as good in his "air work" but poor in take offs and landings. In his notes, Page stated that "work on a JN4 is only average, very stale to begin with. Does not use his head." Unfortunately, for Balestier, his test flights in the DH4 were even worse. Each of six test flights was rated very poor. Page's report after the de Havilland flights was blunt. "Does not seem to be able to handle a DH. With additional training he will be able to fly around a field ok. But in my opinion will never be a satisfactory Cross Country flier for the Service. Recommend that he shall not be taken on."

Balestier's evaluation by College Park field manager O'Leary was equally poor. "Seems to be very slow to learn new ship. In my estimation would not make good as Air Mail pilot. Recommend his separation." Balestier's days as an air pilot ended before they began.

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