Ethel was born in Claresholm in 1926 and grew up on a miserable, rocky farm in Stavely, AB. Her parents were Swedish immigrants and she was the youngest of three, by far. As a child she was fascinated with airplanes, and when the weekly mail plane did its Edmonton-Calgary-Lethbridge run, she’d drop everything to watch and imagine she was flying it.
She was often in trouble for shirking her chores. Ethel’s first close encounter with a plane was when an Anson pilot from No. 7 SFTS Fort Macleod crashed in their field. In exchange for buttermilk, the pilot let Ethel hang around until the crash truck came. BCATP flying schools were popping up everywhere so with a promise that some older Stavely girls would keep an eye on her (and a little white lie about her age), Ethel went to work at No. 31 EFTS De Winton.
She arrived in 1943, in time for Course 86 and stayed until course 102, when the school closed. She was a quick study with the tools and had the compassion, good humour, and listening skills that made her very popular with student pilots from all over the world.