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Women who flew military planes in WWII

marzNC

Angel Diva
Although I knew about the American women who flew military planes in WWII, I didn't know there was a museum dedicated to them. WASP stands for Women Airforce Service Pilots. The WASP Museum is in Texas. 1102 women flew a variety of aircraft.

https://waspmuseum.org
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Dorothy Kocher Olsen was a WASP. She recently passed at age 103. She received a Congressional Medal of Honor in 2009. She was a petite woman. In 2011 she could still fit in her uniform at age 95! I learned from the NY Times article that she was became deaf after a dental procedure but was able to regain hearing at age 80 with a Cochlear implant.

May 2011
https://www.chinookobserver.com/new...cle_de8e7c3a-cb00-574f-8a5d-754c45bf75b0.html

August 2019
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/09/us/dorothy-olsen-dead.html
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
There were also a few American women who flew military planes based in the UK during WWII. The British organization was co-ed, with 168 women just over 1000 men in the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). The ATA was a civilian organization so Americans could join even though they weren't British citizens. The qualifications for the men were a little unusual because physical disabilities didn't matter, meaning missing a limb or even an eye. The women were from many countries, with 27 women from the U.S. The mother of a classmate of mine was in the ATA. She was a feisty petite woman from New Orleans who was in the first group hired by Jacqueline Cochran.

Overview of the book The Female Few: Spitfire Heroines
https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/a...it-the-female-fighter-pilots-of-world-war-ii/

The Women’s RAF
In World War II Britain, a new group of pilots answered the call to serve
- 4 page article

Jacqueline Cochran recruited American women to fly with the ATA. She helped start WASP and the Women's Auxiliary Air Corps.
 

Jersey Ski Girl

Certified Ski Diva
Dorothy Kocher Olsen was a WASP. She recently passed at age 103. She received a Congressional Medal of Honor in 2009. She was a petite woman. In 2011 she could still fit in her uniform at age 95! I learned from the NY Times article that she was became deaf after a dental procedure but was able to regain hearing at age 80 with a Cochlear implant.

May 2011
https://www.chinookobserver.com/new...cle_de8e7c3a-cb00-574f-8a5d-754c45bf75b0.html

August 2019
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/09/us/dorothy-olsen-dead.html
Thanks for sharing this.
 

Ski Sine Fine

Angel Diva
I knew a couple of female pilots back in the day. They’re like every other officer. It’s hard to spot them though. Unlike their male counterparts, they didn’t wear their flight suits to the Officers’ Club :tongue:
 

Ski Sine Fine

Angel Diva
@SarahXC , welcome by the way!

I just don’t ever remember seeing them in flight Suits. To be fair, I didn’t hang out at the O Club much after the first six months or so of being a butter bar.

What stuck in my mind as amusing was there was a school course of some sort, and we were to meet at the O Club after class, and one of the male pilots showed up in his flight suit and the rest of us in civies. I naively asked why.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Bessie Coleman didn't fly military planes, but she was definitely a pioneer. She was an African-American from Chicago who went to France in 1921 to learn to fly. No one in the U.S. would accept her as a student. Unfortunately, she died young in a flying accident at age 34. Her white male co-pilot was also killed and newspaper articles of the day focused on him, even though it was her plane. A book for adults was published about her in 1993 with the title Queen Bess: Daredevil Aviator.

Dec. 11, 2019, NY Times
Overlooked No More: Bessie Coleman, Pioneering African-American Aviatrix
In 1921 Coleman became the first black woman in the United States to earn a pilot’s license, then barnstormed around the country thrilling audiences and inspiring later generations.
". . .
To prepare for the trip, Coleman studied French, solicited benefactors to help finance the venture and found a higher-paying job managing a chili restaurant. On Nov. 20, 1920, she set off for Europe aboard the liner S.S. Imperator, then enrolled at the flight school founded by the aviation pioneers Gaston and René Caudron at Le Crotoy in the Somme in northern France.

There she began a seven-month course in flying a Nieuport Type 82, a 27-foot-long biplane with a 40-foot wingspan. The plane was fragile, and Coleman had to inspect every part of it each time she went aloft.

The Type 82 in which Coleman trained had one cockpit for an instructor and another behind it for a student. There was no steering wheel; there weren’t even brakes. The instructor, and soon Coleman, handled a large wooden stick to control the plane’s pitch and roll, and moved a rudder bar with his feet to control its yaw. To stop the plane, the pilot would land, then drag a metal skid on the tail along the ground.

Coleman learned aerial maneuvers like loop-the-loops, banking and tail spins. She also witnessed an accident that killed another student.

“It was a terrible shock to my nerves, but I never lost them,” Coleman was quoted as saying in “Queen Bess.” “I kept going.”

On June 15, 1921, Coleman received her pilot’s license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, an organization that oversees airborne sports. The license granted her the right to fly anywhere in the world.

Upon her return to New York City in September, The Associated Press heralded her as “a full-fledged aviatrix, said to be the first of her race.”

. . ."
 

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