Mildred Darlene "Micky" Tuttle-Axton|
(January 9, 1919 – February 6, 2010)
Mildred Darlene Tuttle was born in Coffeyville, Kansas in 1919 to Beatrice Fletcher Tuttle and Ralph Tuttle
A licensed pilot since 1940 (and the only woman in her flight class at Coffeyville, Kan., Junior College).
Mildred Tuttle married David "Wayne" Axton on June 1, 1941, the couple settled in Wichita, Kansas.
In 1943, she joined Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) 43-W-7 training class.
After graduation she was assigned to Pecos Army Airfield Base in Texas,
however she left the organization in April 1944 when her mother became ill.
Micky applied for a job with Boeing and was hired as a flight test engineer; in May 1944 she became the first woman ever to fly the B-29 Superfortress.
She taught at East High School in Wichita, Kansas from 1958 to 1969.
The Jayhawk Wing of the Commemorative Air Force operates a restored Fairchild PT-19, dubbed "Miss Micky" in her honor.
Micky was an active member of the Commemorative Air Force for forty years.
Her husband "Wayne" died in 1998.
She died, at aged 91, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, following a brief illness.
Micky's brother, Ralph Tuttle, was an Army Air Corps fighter pilot in the Pacific Theater of Operations,
flew an estimated 250 missions that earned him the Silver Star and twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Ann Gilpin Baumgartner-Carl|
(August 27, 1918 – March 20, 2008)
Born at Camp Gordon in Augusta, Ga., in 1918 while her father served there during World War I.
A school lecture by Amelia Earhart in 1932 inspired Ann Gilpin Baumgartner Carl to learn to fly.
Like Earhart, she became an aviation pioneer.
Ann graduated from Smith College in 1939 with a pre-med degree.
She was the first American woman to fly a jet airplane.
While serving with the Women's Air Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II, she first flew the turbo-jet powered Bell JP-59A on Oct. 14, 1944.
During her wartime career as a test pilot at Wright Field in Ohio, she was the only woman test pilot flying World War II combat aircraft such as the P-38, P-47 and P-51.
She was assigned to Wright Field as an assistant operations officer in the fighter test section as member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots program.
While flight testing the P-82 Twin Mustang, she met her husband-to-be, its designer, William P. Carl.
They married on May 2, 1945, four days after the Allies claimed victory in Europe.
Had two childern son, Peter Carl (Now of Cambridge, England), daughter, Margaret "Peggy" Laufer, (now of Ontario, Canada).
She had brief stints as a medical researcher, a dancer and a writer for The New York Times before realizing her ambition to fly.
She wrote about her military experiences in "A WASP Among Eagles: A Woman Military Test Pilot in World War II" and about her sailing life in "The Small World of Long Distance Sailors."
Mr. Carl died Feb. 19, 2008 and Ann died March 20, 2008 in a Kilmarnock nursing home.
Lt. Col. Jacqueline "Jackie" Cochran|
(May 11, 1906 – August 9, 1980)
A pioneer in the field of American aviation, considered to be one of the most gifted racing pilots of her generation. She was an important contributor to the formation of the wartime Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) and Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). – Director of the WASP.
In 1938, Cochran became famous nationwide for winning the Bendix Transcontinental Race.
Violet "Vi" Cowden|
(October 1, 1916 – April 10, 2011)
An American aviator who served as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II. Cowden was one of the surviving members of the 1,074 WASPs, who were the first women to fly American military planes. Born Violet Thurn and raised on a farm in Bowdle South Dakota. She taught first grade students in Spearfish, South Dakota. She was issued her pilot's license before the United States entered World War II. She initially enlisted in the a volunteer women's emergency service program following the Attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. However, before her basic training began, Cowden joined Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP. However, Cowden who weighed only 92 pounds and stood at just 5-feet-2-inches tall at the time, was too short and too light to join the WASP. To quickly gain weight she ate bananas and drank milk and to make herself taller she tied a wrap in her hair. She successfully gained the eight additional pounds and two inches needed to enlist. Cowden was commissioned as a member of the WASPs in March 1943. She successfully flew her first solo flight on March 5, 1943. She became one of only 114 WASP to fly the fighter planes during the war, including the P-47 Thunderbolt, P-39 AiraCobra, P-63 Kingcobra, and her favorite and the "love of her life," the P-51 Mustang. A long-time resident of Huntington Beach, California, she remained very active in community affairs throughout her life. She served as the Grand Marshal of Huntington Beach's Independence Day parade. Was also a member of the board of directors for the Bolsa Chica Land Trust and participated in the city's Veterans Day celebration and beach restorations. She participated in "Living History" in which World War II veterans gave speeches and presentations at high schools in southern California. Was on the Board of Directors at the Yanks Air Museum in Chino, California where they display many of the fighter planes that she flew during World War II and now display her WASP uniform. She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010, as one of only 300 surviving members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Supporters had lobbied for the recognition for WASP for more than a decade. She was also the subject of the 2010 independent film, Wings of Silver: The Vi Cowden Story, directed by Mark & Christine Bonn. Among the 10 awards that her film won was the Audience Award for short films at the Newport Beach Film Festival in 2010. (in less than a year it won 5 Audience Awards and 5 Best Documentary Short awards from film festivals around North America). Cowden went skydiving with the elite Army Golden Knights when she was 89 years old. On her 90th birthday she decided to go paragliding. In 2010, Cowden took part in an aerial mock dogfight over Fullerton Municipal Airport in Orange County, California. And in 2009 she again flew in the Collings Foundation P-51c Mustang, co-piloting and taking the stick for take off, landing & some fast flying in between. Violet Cowden died at 8:34 p.m. on April 10, 2011, at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, California, at the age of 94.
Rosa Charlyne Batson-Creger|
Born to Stephen and Ruth Batson in 1920 and she was one of four children. Considered herself very fortunate to be born into an upper-middleclass family, as well as, parents that allowed her to be outside the Southern belle ideal. Her mother instilled Southern values, but allowed Rosa to be who she wanted to be. She wanted to fly since she saw Charles Lindbergh in Birmingham, Alabama. Additionally, Rosa was an excellent athlete during her youth, she participated in horseback riding and golf. During high school, she was on the cheerleading team. At the University of Alabama, she was elected to the highest coed office. In 1941, she graduated from University of Alabama. One of the original women to participate in the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) during WWII. In August 1943, WASP was changed to WAFS. In 1944, Crews graduated from pursuit school. Her assignment was to ferry P-47s from the factory to embarkation points to later be moved to war zones. She often would travel one coast to the other at heights up to four miles high at three hundred miles per hour. She was one of the first twenty-eight women to pilot a United States plane in WWII. On February 1, 1946 she married Paul Crews and together they had three children, Paul, Radford, and Elinor. While she stopped flying between 1949 and 1959 because her children were young, she continued to fly for most of her life. During the 1960s, she and her Super Club created a flying business. Through her business, she learned to how fly gliders and later became an instructor. In her seventies, she created a land and home development business. She was the first president of WAFS post-war organization between the year 1972-1975. Additionally, she was elected mayor of California City for one term in 1978. Also, she served one term as the St. Claire County Airport Commissioner. At seventy-nine, Crews co-piloted a corporate turbo jet for almost eighty hours. In 1989, she was inducted into the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame. In 1997, a plague with her name was placed outside of Forest of Friendship. In 2004, she was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame. Finally, on March 10, 2010 Rosa and the WASPs as a whole received a Congressional Gold Medal. Her uniform, "Mooney Mite", and first logbook are kept at the Southern Museum of Flight in Alabama. Rosa did not experience much sexism because both men and women were comfortable around her. She enjoyed being around men and men enjoyed being around her. She was able to learn how to work well with men and had more male friends than female. She did not consider herself a feminist. She was able to use her abilities to advance within the current structure. Additionally, she was not afraid to ask for assistance and that usually came from men. Finally, what was originally believed to be pneumonia was actually lung cancer which caused her death on January 14, 2001.
"From the time my mother took me on a two dollar airplane ride in Asbury Park, New Jersey in the 1920's, I fell in love with flying and I knew I was going to become a pilot someday," says Selma Kantor Cronan. She fulfilled her wish in 1943 when she was certified as a pilot. Since that time, Selma flew for the WASPs, for the Civil Air Patrol, in competitions and for the sheer pleasure of it. Fifty-five years later she still takes the controls from time to time.
In 1943 Selma join the WASPs. After World War II, Selma's flying career really took off. She entered numerous flying competitions, among them three All Women's Transcontinental Air Races across the United States, better known as "Powder Puff Derbies."
In 1990, Selma attended an international conference of women fliers in Russia. Thirty former WASP pilots met with Russian women pilots who served in the Soviet Air Force in World War II. Known as the "Night Witches," many of these Russian women flew bombers on night raids against German targets.
The conference also included a visit to Kiev in the Ukraine. Kiev, practically an all-Jewish city prior to World War II, was virtually destroyed by the Germans. Selma placed a wreath at the memorial at Babi Yar, where 60,000 Jews were massacred. "This experience strengthened my identity as a Jew as nothing had before," Selma said.
Almost until her passing, Selma was active in women's flying associations, especially the International Association of Licensed Women Pilots. "Flying is easy; all you have to do is get the hang of it. I can't think of anything better than taking the controls and soaring into the sky like a bird with the earth down below."
In 1992 she was interviewed at home in Delray, still flying at age 82. Of her time as a WASP Cronan said, “I was very young and gung-ho. My next flight was all I cared about. Looking back, I realize now there was a lot of discrimination against women. You’d fly into an air base and there was never a ladies’ room. I realize now the subtleties of the whole thing. If there’s anything I’m happy about, it’s that we were the forerunner of what’s taking place insofar as discrimination against women.”
She was living in Delray Beach, Florida when she passed away on April 17, 2002.
(February 5, 1919 – March 21, 1943)
Born to a wealthy and prominent Nashville, Tennessee, family; her father, Rufus Elijah Fort, was a founder of National Life and Accident Insurance Company. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1939. After college, She joined the Junior League of Nashville.
Showed an early interest in flying, ultimately training for and earning her pilot's license in Hawaii. While working as a civilian pilot instructor at Pearl Harbor, Cornelia Fort inadvertently became one of the first witnesses to the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II.
On December 7, 1941, She was in the air near Pearl Harbor teaching takeoffs and landings to a student pilot in an Interstate Cadet monoplane. Hers and a few other civilian aircraft were the only U.S. planes in the air near the harbor at that time. Fort saw a military airplane flying directly toward her and swiftly grabbed the controls from her student to pull up over the oncoming craft. It was then she saw the rising sun insignia on the wings. Within moments, she saw billows of black smoke coming from Pearl Harbor and bombers flying in. She quickly landed the plane at John Rodgers civilian airport near the mouth of Pearl Harbor. The pursuing Zero strafed her plane and the runway as she and her student ran for cover. The airport manager was killed and two other civilian planes did not return that morning. With all civilian flights grounded in Hawaii, Fort returned to the mainland in early 1942.
She made a short movie promoting war bonds that was successful and led to speaking engagements. Later that year, Nancy Love recruited her to serve in the newly established Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, precursor to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She was the second woman accepted into the service.
The WAFS ferried military planes to bases within the United States. Stationed at the 6th Ferrying Group base at Long Beach, California, Cornelia Fort became the first WAFS fatality on March 21, 1943 when another plane being ferried by a male pilot struck the left wing of the BT-13 she was ferrying in a mid-air collision ten miles south of Merkel, Texas. At the time of the accident, Cornelia Fort was one of the most accomplished pilots of the WAFS. The footstone of her grave is inscribed, "Killed in the Service of Her Country."
Cornelia Fort was portrayed in the film Tora, Tora, Tora. The Cornelia Fort Airpark in East Nashville is named after her.
(August 5, 1923 in Berkeley, California – February 1, 2013)
An American aviator who served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots in World War II. She was one of two Chinese American women to serve in the organization, the other being Hazel Ying Lee. A native of Berkeley, California, Maggie Gee graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and attended graduate program at the university in physics. She later worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. She is featured in a number of books, oral history projects, and documentaries. In 2009 a book was written about her life story called Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee, by Marissa Moss. In 2010, she and all other living WASP pilots received the Congressional Gold Medal. Maggie Gee also served for many decades as an elected member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, supporting voter registration and fundraising. She also served for many years as a long-time Board member and Treasurer of the Berkeley Democratic Club in Berkeley, California. She has served on the California Democratic Party Executive Board and Asian Pacific Islander Democratic Caucus. She has received numerous awards and citations from the Democratic Party, including a posthumous award in March 2014 from the Asian Pacific Democratic Caucus of Alameda County.
(January 7, 1908 – October 14, 1998)
Betty Huyler was born January 7, 1908 to a relatively prosperous family on Long Island. She began flying in 1928 when she was a student nurse at Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and on May 6, 1929, after a total of 23 hours of flying time, including instruction, obtained license #6525.
Betty immediately began building time toward a commercial license and when it was formed in November 1929, she joined The Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women flyers, first led by pioneer woman flyer Amelia Earhart. The name of the group was chosen because 99 women were present for the first meeting, including Betty. Between 1939 and 1941, she was the president of the 99s and led the fight against the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) over the prohibition for women to fly during pregnancy. She later owned and flew a Grumman Widgeon amphibian.
In 1930, Betty was married to Brewster Allison "Bud" Gillies, a vice president of Grumman Aircraft Corporation. In 1942, Gillies was the first pilot to qualify for the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. She entered the WAFS on September 12, 1942. At this time, she had amassed 14 years of flying experience, running up a total of 1,400 flying hours to her credit and held various aeronautical ratings. When Nancy Love transferred to Love Field, Dallas, Texas to start a new WAFS ferrying unit, Betty was made squadron leader of the WAFS assigned to the 2nd Ferrying Group, New Castle Army Air Base, Wilmington, Delaware.
In early March 1943, she became the first woman to fly the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt when she was checked out on the aircraft at Wilmington. The "check out" consisted of an explanation of aircraft systems, flight characteristics and emergency procedures. One of the outstanding ferry missions accomplished by the original Squadron at Wilmington came in April 1943, when four Fairchild PT-26s were delivered from Hagerstown, Maryland, to DeWinton, Alberta, Canada, a distance of more than 2,500 miles. Betty was flight leader, and the other three pilots were Nancy Batson, Helen McGilvery and Kathryn Bernheim. The type of aircraft flown had a cruising speed of only around 100 mph. The group left Hagerstown on April 18, spent the night at Joliet, Illinois (697 miles away), spent the next night at North Platte, Neb., after a run of 585 miles, then made a long hop of 846 miles to Great Falls, Montana. On April 21 they flew the remaining 275 miles to DeWinton, Alberta. All four pilots were back at the 2nd Group by Friday evening, April 23, and were commended by Colonel Baker for their efficient and prompt delivery, which included not only the flying of the aircraft but also the paperwork involved in such deliveries, such as flight logs, gasoline reports and RON (remain over night) messages.
On August 15, 1943, Love and Gillies qualified as first pilots (aircraft commanders) on Boeing B-17s and made three deliveries together during the balance of the month. On September 2, 1943 Gillies and Nancy Love departed Cincinnati on a ferry mission to deliver a B-17F to England; however, the mission was canceled before the aircraft left Goose Bay, Labrador. Gillies remained squadron leader of the Women Airforce Service Pilots assigned to the 2nd Ferrying Group at New Castle Army Air Base until the WASPs were disbanded on December 20, 1944.
Betty and her husband Bud Gillies, had three children. One of her children died at age 4; her remaining son and daughter became commercial pilots, and four of her grandchildren become pilots as well. After World War II, Gillies was a ham radio operator who, using her radio, connected phone calls to ships in the Pacific from her home in California. She had her huge antenna directed at the Antarctic and maintained contact with the staff and Navy personnel in Operation Deep Freeze who were stationed there for two year hitches. She also participated in the Navy MARS program under the call sign NNN0AYT. Staying connected to aviation, Gillies was the Chair of the All Woman Transcontinental Air Race (AWTAR) from 1953–1961. In 1964, Gillies was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as the first Federal Aviation Administration Women's Advisory Committee. Gillies Received a Paul Tissandier Diploma from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in 1977 and the National Aeronautic Association Elder Statesman of Aviation Award in 1982.
She died in 1998.
LOIS EMMA HAILEY|
(January 18, 1915 - April 24, 2010)
Lois was born oin the house she would grow up in at 331 Moran street in Reno, NV. Her dad was Charles W. Brooks and her mother was Harriet Peckham. Lois had an older brother, Ernest, and four sisters; Ethel, the eldest, Myrtle, Carol, and Louise, who are all deceased.
Lois attended Reno High and then went on to get a degree in Spanish and Education from the University of Nevada in Reno. During her senior year, she had to take care of her ailing mother, who was stricken with cancer.
After graduation in 1936 from U of N, Lois took a teaching job in Minden, Nevada, south of Reno. She directed the school band and gave private music lessons to interested students. She was also responsible for teaching photography for the school. Her plan was to save enough money to fulfill her dream of attending the Julliard School of Music. All was going as planned, but outside influences were starting to detour her life. In June of 1939, Jim Peckham, a cousin, got her to join him and learn to fly. She fell in love with it. On December 3, 1939, solo for the first time. On January 17, she was awarded her solo license. By April 17, 1940, she had her private license.
On December 1, 1940, Jim and a friend, Vic Spezia, pooled their money, and they bought a single engine Taylorcraft, NC23875, for $1,995. Sharing the plane meant Jim and Vic got the plane during the week and Lois got it on the weekend. Lois also got to fly the plane over the mountains to take it in for maintenance work. Jim and Vic would kid mom by making up stories about the carburetor freezing or ice on the wings and the plane would fall out of the sky while she was in route.
After about a year of sharing the Taylorcraft, Jim and Vic sold mom their share in the plane. This was just as W.W.II was starting. Still fulfilling her teaching duties, kept flying; spot landings, cross-country, chandelles, eights, verticals, spins, loops and stalls. Finally, on July 11, 1941, with over 300 hours, she took and passed her commercial license test to become the first female pilot in the state of Nevada to do so.
As the war progressed, flying was limited and fuel was rationed. On August 29, 1942, Lois, with just over 500 hours of flying time, sold her plane to a training school so it could be put to better use.
Since Lois had over 500 hours, she received an invitation from Nancy Love to join the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS). All she had to do was travel back east for an interview with Nancy. She declined. Then she got a telegram from Jacqueline to meet her on the west coast for an interview. Interested in meeting Jacqueline, but not in joining the Army. She joined a friend, Iris Crtichell, who also got an invitation to join the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and they went to see what it was all about. She joined the third WFTD class in January of 1943.
While in the 6th Tow Target squadron at Biggs Army Air Field in El Paso, Texas, she helped the army personnel learn how to use machine guns and larger artillery to hit moving targets towed behind her plane. She also flew at night so they could learn to use search lights, strafed infantry with tear gas, teaching young men skills that would either help them survive or help keep others alive.
In December of 1944, the WASP were disbanded. She married Sam Hailey in 1947. In April of 1948, they became the parents of Charles Andrew. Her marriage didn't last and she never remarried. In the fall of 1949, she gave up teaching flying and went back to teaching band and orchestra with the El Paso School District. Mom’s teaching career in El Paso spanned 31 years and included earning her Masters in Education with a minor in Music from Texas Western College in 1953. In 1980, three years after the WASP were finally recognized as veterans via an act of Congress, she retired. During retirement, she continued to support flying through membership in the 99s and volunteering at the War Eagles Museum near El Paso. She also attended the WASP reunions that occurred every other year, including their last reunion in 2008. She also traveled to other activities honoring the WASP. She was inducted into the El Paso Aviation Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame in 2004. On the May 23, 2005, Lois was honored by the El Paso County Commissioners Court for her WASP service, her services to the El Paso ISD, and becoming the first chairperson of the El Paso chapter of the 99s. On March 10 of this year, she, and her fellow WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in Emancipation Hall of the new Congressional Visitors center in Washington, DC. for their service during WW II.
Lois passed on April 24, 2010 and is survived by her son, Charles “Andy” Hailey, his wife Mary and their daughter Dawn. Mary and Dawn were Lois’s caregivers since May of 2008 when Lois was moved from El Paso to Friendswood, Texas, to live with her immediate family.
Sara Payne Hayden|
Sara Payne Hayden was one of the women who joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II.
She was the Veterans Affairs chairwoman of the group as of 2006.
Born in 1919 at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the little town of Granite Falls, Sara Payne Hayden would eventually be one of the 200 out of the 300 surviving WASP’s (Women’s Airforce Service Pilot) to travel to the Capitol to receive the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in Washington, DC on March 10, 2010. It was the largest group to ever assemble at the Capitol for such an occasion with approximately 1700 people in attendance.
When Sara Payne Hayden went to the movies one night in 1942, little did she know that her life would change forever. She would see a newsreel calling for female pilots and advertising the WASP program. Women were being called to enter the program to offer relief for male pilots who were needed in combat. She knew instantly that was for her. She really did not have the support of her family or friends and against all odds; she borrowed money and entered the WASP program at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, TX. She borrowed money to gain the necessary flight hours before her application and during these lessons many obstacles both financially and socially were overcome in order to complete her flight time.
Sara Payne Hayden became a WWII WASP and was a member of the Class of 1944-10.
Her duty station was Randolph AFB, CIS. She was commissioned to the Air Force in July 1949. She served in active duty from August 1951-September 1953 as a Recruiting Officer.
It would be sixty-six years later that she would receive the highest civilian award from the United States Congress. She was joined by her son Dr. Shawn Hayden and grandson Dallas of Plano, Texas and grandson Derek Hayden, a US Marine from New Bern, North Carolina. Also in attendance were her niece Lynda (Payne) Phillips and her husband Lee from Beaufort, North Carolina, and some of her women friends from the 99’s and the Women’s Military Aviators (WMA).
Bestowing the award to this group was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, journalist Tom Brokaw, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-OH, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, and Air Force Lt. Col. Nicole Malachowski who is the first female Thunderbird pilot. Receiving the award on behalf of the Women Airforce Service Pilots was WASP, Deanie Parrish. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-TX, Representative Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL, and Representative Susan Davis, D-CA who all led the way for these women to be recognized after all these years.
Sara went to Washington with the WASP’s to testify. This was the G.I. Bill Improvement Act of 1977 and it granted these women full military distinction.
Hayden’s activities in the community are well known. They include speaking engagements for various groups especially schools. She was the WASP representative at the opening ceremony of the WWII exhibit at the JFK Museum; Color Guard on women’s day at the Viet Nam Moving Wall; and “In Defense of Hanscom” Conference on January 30, 1995. She has been an active contributor at the Woman’s Texas University archives. She was featured on MCTV (Methuen Community Television) on the series “Call to Serve” that works with the Veterans’ History Project at the Library of Congress. She is part of the permanent exhibit at the Women at Work Museum in Attleboro, Massachusetts where she was also part of the keynote address for the Women Who Fly program at the museum.
Hayden is active in the Methuen Women’s Post 417 of the American Legion. She is the Past Commander, Life Member for over 50 years, Post Adjutant, Finance Officer and the Boys’ State Chair. Hayden is a pioneer in American military history. She broke through barriers that most could never imagine. She trail-blazed through the skies and her work and sacrifices have made it easier for military women of today. Sara Payne Hayden takes every opportunity she can to educate others about the history of the WASP.
We thank you Sara Payne Hayden for your military service, for your undying loyalty to your country and your community. Congratulations on receiving your Congressional Gold Medal! You deserve it!
Mary Marjorie "Pat" Hiller|
Flew the AT-6 trainer, PT trainer, small fabric-winged liaison planes transporting officers, and as co-pilot ferrying B-17s and B-24s out of Buffalo, New York and around the Great Lakes to Manitoba, and down to Alabama, flying new planes to receive armament, and war-weary planes to be parted out and for scrap.
Carla Howard Horowitz graduated from WASP Class 44-W-7 and was assigned to Blackland Army Air Field, Waco, Texas where she flew the AT-10 for utility, engineering/test/maintenance and administrative flying.
Held the woman's international airspeed record before her death in 1947.
of the Flying Hutchinsons, joined at age 18.
Shirley C. Kruse|
Pearl Laska Chamberlain|
First woman to solo a single-engine airplane up the Alaska Highway in 1946.
Dorothy Swain Lewis - Worked at Piper Aircraft Lockhaven, Pennsylvania, Graduate of Phoebe Omlie's Tennessee Bureau of Aeronautics Women Aviation Instructor Program in Nashville TN (Feb 1943). Instructed Navy pilots V-5 program classes 43F,W3G, W3H, Instructed WASP classes 43-W8,44-W2,44-W4, joined WASP in class 44-W7&5, towed targets in B-26, engineering flights various other aircraft, sculpted WASP trainee statue on United States Air Force Academy Honor Court, Colorado Springs, painted official portrait of Janet Reno for US Department of Justice.
Hazel Ying Lee|
One of two Asian-Americans in the WASP, the other being Maggie Gee.
Lee was born in Portland, Oregon. Her father was a merchant. Her mother devoted her energy to raising eight children and helping with the family business. Despite the widespread anti-Chinese bias of her time, Lee led a full and active life. Lee swam, played handball, loved to play cards and, in her teenage years, learned how to drive.
Following graduation from high school in 1929, Lee found a job as an elevator operator at Liebes Department Store in downtown Portland. It was one of the few jobs that a Chinese-American woman could hold during this time.
In 1932, Lee took her first airplane ride. At a time when less than 1% of pilots in the U.S. were women, Lee joined the Chinese Flying Club of Portland and took flying lessons with famed aviator Al Greenwood. Despite opposition from her mother, Lee "had to fly." In discussing Lee's love of flying, her sister Frances said, "It was the thought of doing something she loved. Lee enjoyed the danger and doing something that was new to Chinese girls."
In October 1932, Lee became one of the first Chinese-American women to earn a pilot's license. In speaking of Lee and the handful of other Chinese-American women pilots of that time, author Judy Yung has written "Although few in number, these first Chinese American aviators, in their attempt to participate in a daring sport, broke the stereotype of the passive Chinese women and demonstrated the ability of Chinese American women to compete in a male dominated field." While in Portland, Lee met her future husband "Clifford" Louie Yim-qun.
On November 10, 1944, Lee received orders to go to the Bell Aircraft factory at Niagara Falls, New York and pick up a P-63 and deliver the plane to Great Falls, Montana. During the War, Lee and the other Pursuit pilots delivered over 5,000 fighters to Great Falls. Great Falls was the link in supplying Russian allies with planes. From there, male pilots flew the fighters on to Alaska, where Russian pilots waited to fly the planes home.
Bad weather delayed the mission at Fargo, North Dakota. On Thanksgiving morning, the weather cleared and Lee was able to leave Fargo. A little after 2 p.m., Lee was cleared to land in Great Falls. A large number of P-63's approached the airport at the same time. There was confusion on the part of the control tower. Upon landing, Lee's plane and another P-63 collided, and were engulfed in flames. Lee was pulled from the burning wreckage of her airplane, her flight jacket still smoldering.
Two days later, on November 25, 1944, Lee died from the burns she received in the accident. Only three days after learning of Lee's death, the Lee family received another telegram. Lee's brother, Victor, serving with the U.S. Tank Corps, had been killed in combat in France. As they prepared to bury Hazel and Victor, the family picked out a burial site in a Portland, Oregon cemetery.
The cemetery refused to allow the family to bury Hazel and Victor in the chosen spot, citing cemetery policy that did not allow Asians to be buried "in the White section." After a lengthy battle, the Lee family prevailed. Lee was laid to rest in a non-military funeral, and buried alongside her brother, on a sloping hill in River View Cemetery, overlooking the Willamette River.
For over three decades, members of the WASP and their supporters attempted to secure military status for the women pilots. In March 1979, following United States Congressional approval of Public Law 95-202, the efforts of the Women Airforce Service pilots were finally recognized and military status was finally granted.
Thirty-eight pilots of the WASP died while in service to their country during the difficult years of World War II. Lee was the last to die.
Barbara Erickson London|
The only WASP member to be awarded the Air Medal during World War II.
Following the war, medals were awarded to other WASP members.
Anne Armstrong McClellan|
Annabelle Craft Moss|
Moss flew the AT-6 Trainer, and was responsible for transporting officers from base to base.
Following the war she became a noted photographer and writer.
She took the photos for For God, Country and the Thrill of It: Women Airforce Pilots of World War II, with an introduction by Dora Dougherty Strother.
Deanie Bishop Parrish|
Suzanne Upjohn DeLano Parish|
co-founder of Kalamazoo Air Museum.
Vilma Lazar Qualls|
(May 5, 1917 - November 2, 2003)
A member of class 43-W-3, she was assigned to Long Beach Army Airbase after training. She flew BT-13, C-47, B-17 and B-24.
Mabel Rawlinson, 26, was one of 38 women killed serving as a Women Airforce Service Pilot during World War II. Rawlinson was killed on Aug. 23, 1943, when her plane crashed and caught fire during a training session at a military base.
Ola Mildred Rexroat|
An Oglala Sioux from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, was the only Native American woman in the WASP.
Dawn Rochow Seymour|
In 1938, Evelyn Sharp was the youngest person in the United States to receive a commercial pilots license.
Helen "Skip" Sigler|
Gertrude Tompkins Silver|
The last WASP to go missing in World War II.
She made a flight from Mines Field (currently LAX) to Palm Springs on October 26, 1944, intending to fly a P-51 Mustang on to New Jersey, but never arrived in Palm Springs. As of January 2010, search efforts to locate the crash site are still ongoing.
graduate of class 43-W-1.
Dora Dougherty Strother|
Ginny Hill Wood|
Marguerite "Ty" Hughes Killen|
Jeanne P. d'Ambly|
member of the 43-W-5 class
Lois Maxine (Dobbin) Auchterlonie|
graduate of class 43-8.
Margie E. Heckle|
Graduate of class 43-4.
Frances Johnson Cisternino|
Betty (Elizabeth)I. White Dybbro|
class of 44-W-6. Planes flown AT-6, PT-17, UC-78
Mary S. Reineberg Burchard|
class of 44-W-6
Florence "Shutsy" Reynolds|
Earned her pilot's license in 1941, just before women were barred from the government-operated training program at local airports due to the expected need of more male pilots. Following the death of her husband around 1988, she took over the WASP organization's "Stores" job, making and selling intricate silver and bronze jewelry, banners, scarves and other WASP-themed items.
Mary Elizabeth Williamson (Shipley)|
(1924-2012) class 44-4
Flew B-26 Widowmakers and pulled 6G's in a F-16 at age 72