2022 Draws to an End...
We are coming to the end of another year. Time. It does fly! 2022 in many regards has been an extraordinary year for me. I am deeply grateful for the many blessings.
They Persisted, the second edition, all cleaned up and better than ever, is now live on Amazon (or will be in a day or so when Amazon catches up!).
They Roared is being formatted and will be ready by the end of January. I am so excited about both of these books because the women in them electrify me! They are brave, talented, tenacious, and beautiful. This has all been possible because of my editor, Laurie Martin, and my technology guru, Dana Peterson. None of this would have happened without them. They are the magic behind this book.
The following is an excerpt from They Roared:
WOMEN IN FLIGHT
“THE FLY GIRLS”
WASP (from left) Frances Green, Margaret Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leave their B-17, Pistol Packin' Mama, during ferry training at Ohio’s Lockbourne Army Air Force base. They're carrying their parachutes.
Women Who Silently Changed History
During World War II, women pilots flew 80 percent of all ferrying missions. They delivered 12,650 aircraft. The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) freed around 900 male pilots for combat duty during World War II. The problem was simple, but it would have disastrous consequences if left unsolved. The United States had entered World War II, and military aircraft were barreling off the assembly lines. But with many military pilots already overseas, or soon to be deployed, there was no way to transport these
planes from the factories to the airfields, where they were urgently needed. There was a radical notion that women pilots just might be the answer.
Today, women work as pilots in every context. They fly commercial jets, military aircraft, and spacecraft. Women are airline pilots, compete in air races, command helicopter mercy flights, haul freight, stock high mountain lakes with fish, seed clouds, patrol pipelines, teach students to fly, maintain jet engines, and transport corporate officers.
Women have made significant contributions to aviation since the Wright Brothers' twelve-second flight in 1903. Blanche Scott became the first woman pilot in 1910, quite by accident. The plane that she was “allowed” to taxi down the runway mysteriously became airborne. Harriet Quimby became the first licensed female pilot in 1911. A year later, Harriet was the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
Violet Cowden was twenty-six when she earned her WASP silver wings. “I joined because of love for the country,” she told The Times in an interview, “and I thought maybe I could contribute something to the war effort.” Mabel Virginia Rawlins also joined because she wanted to help in the war effort. She gave her life. Both women have a chapter in this book.
WASP was an experimental program surrounded by controversy. The intent was to fill a void. It was definitely a gamble, but a gamble that paid off richly. These women silently changed history. They went through rigorous training to fly military aircraft so male pilots could engage in combat duties overseas. Eleanor Roosevelt heartily endorsed the endeavor, most likely because the inimitable Jacqueline Cochran had written to the First Lady, expressing her own belief in the program, and asking for support.
Jackie Cochran was one of the most important figures in the stateside war effort. I have mentioned her here, but she has her own chapter. A remarkable woman, the lynchpin of the success of the entire WASP program, making it an unqualified success. She and Nancy Love worked together to make this happen, but Jackie Cochran was the initial driving force who endured.
In 1930, there were approximately 200 women pilots. In 1935, there were between 700 and 800. They flew 60 million miles. But there was a toll. Thirty-eight lost their lives serving their country. Twenty-seven died on active-duty missions and eleven died during training.