I’d Travel Back in Time to See This!

Jim Moore
9 min readNov 16, 2021
My mom at 18, next to her Stearman trainer at Burbank airport in 1939 adding hours to her logbook

Forget the Arrow of Time and the Grandfather Paradox

If I had a time machine, I’d head back in time to Southern California, arriving on February 20, 1944, at Burbank airport near of Los Angles, where a young Army Air Force pilot in the newly-minted 436th Fighter Squadron, is about to give a pretty girl a ride in a P-38. The pilot is my dad, Jim. The pretty girl is my mom, Liz (known then as Betty). And she is about to seal the deal on their engagement.

My folks met on the day my mother told my father where to go

In late January of 1944, my mother was a 21-year-old air traffic controller, volunteering in the Los Angeles air traffic center monitoring the flow of Army Air Force aircraft crisscrossing the SoCal skies on training flights along the coast and out over the Pacific. Pop, in a P-38 Lightning, was at 10,000-feet east of LA in the last phase of air-combat training prior to being shipped to England to fly in the European Theater of Operations.

LA Air Traffic Control: Where 21-year-old Betty Brackett (2nd from left) pushed Lt. James Moore around

After contacting the air traffic center to let them know he was transiting LA and returning to Palmdale, Pop heard a woman’s voice on the radio giving him vectors to the air field. “I liked that voice right away,” my dad would say every time he retold the story. He listened to that voice all the way to Palmdale as my mother continued giving clearances to other Army Air Force pilots flying around the LA basin. “By the time I was on the ground, I had to know who that was,” Pop recounted. “I asked around, and one of the pilots who knew her name, told me to not even try to meet her.”

She is a Hollywood kid

That pilot told my dad that the “girl” on the radio was a “Hollywood kid,” the daughter of a film studio writer or producer. Rumor had it, said the other pilot, that the girl, Betty Brackett, was seeing an actor and had a string of guys standing in line in case Betty became available. But my father couldn’t get over how much he liked her voice, and he wangled a way to meet her at her home in Bel Air. The details of that “wangling” have…

Jim Moore

Journalist, former Capitol Hill staff (House and Senate), former Cabinet speechwriter, editor, photojournalist and bird photographer. Top Writer Quora 2016–2017