Mary Flake grew up during the depression, and worked peeling potatoes on a farm as a 14-year-old. One day, a Piper Cub landed at the farm, she got a ride, and was hooked. She immediately wanted to take flying lessons, but had to save up $100 for the required lessons. After several months, she had the money, and started taking lessons. When she was ready to solo, she filled out the paperwork and her instructor told her she would have to wait until she was 16.
She spent the next year working at the airport and hitching rides every chance she could until she was old enough to solo. After receiving her Private Pilot license, she performed in some airshows, doing inverted flying in a Stearman biplane. She lived to fly, and used the money she had saved up for a prom dress to buy a leather flying jacket. Mary graduated from high school at age 16 and moved away from home to pursue a career. She became a realtor, and purchased an archer to use for business.