From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Vilas Knope '20

Date of birth: July 12, 1897

Date of death: August 16, 1927

Age: 30

Lucky Bag

From the 1920 Lucky Bag:


L to R: Sy, Mildred Doran, John "Auggy" Pedlar
The crew of Miss Doran, left to right, John “Auggy” Pedlar, Mildred Doran and Lieutenant Vilas R. Knope, United States Navy. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives) August 1927

Sy was lost on August 16, 1927 when the aircraft he was aboard, Miss Dolan, went missing during the Dole Air Race from Oakland, California to Honolulu. He was the navigator.

From This Day In Aviation:

Buhl CA-5 Air Sedan, NX2915, named Miss Doran. Repairs from its unscheduled landing in the farmer’s field had been accomplished. It was flown by John “Auggy” Pedlar with Lieutenant Vilas R. Knope, U.S. Navy, as navigator. Also aboard was a passenger, Miss Mildred Doran, the airplane’s namesake. She was a 23-year-old fifth-grade school teacher from Flint, Michigan, who knew William Malloska, owner of the Lincoln Petroleum Company (later, CITGO) and convinced him to enter an airplane in the Dole Air Race and allow her to fly along. Two local air circus pilots reportedly flipped a coin for the chance to fly the airplane. Auggy Pedlar won the toss. Just ten minutes after takeoff from Oakland Field, Miss Doran returned with engine problems.

The aircraft took off again a short while later, was seen over the Farallon Islands, and then disappeared.

Sy has a memory marker in Wisconsin.

Related Articles

George Covell '22 and Richard Waggener '22 were entered in this race as well, but died on their way to Oakland.

Class of 1920

Vilas is one of 27 members of the Class of 1920 on Virtual Memorial Hall.