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Paving the Way

“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."



Selma Kantor was born in Asbury Park, New Jersey,

on May 6, 1913. At the age of eight, Selma’s mother

took her on her first airplane ride at a local airfield.

From that day on, Selma wanted to fly. “From the

time my mother took me on a two-dollar airplane

ride in Asbury Park, N.J., in the 1920s, I fell in love

with flying, and I knew I was going to become a pilot

someday.” Many of the stories of the WASP began

this way.


Selma obtained her pilot’s license in early 1943. The

following year Jackie Cochran, the legendary aviator

and pioneer, personally invited Selma to join the

Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Selma was

inducted as a WASP in 1944, where she served

bravely with hundreds of other women pilots.


When the war ended Selma relocated to New York.

She was very active in the Civil Air Patrol and rose to

the rank of Captain. She was the New York Wing’s

director of women’s affairs for fourteen years and

organized the first all-woman squadron, as well as

the first girl cadet training squadron. During this

time Selma met Walter Cronan, who had relocated to

New York from Canada. The couple married and

raised twins. There is very little information about

this time in Selma’s life.


Selma never lost her passion for flight and built a

lucrative career as a writer and consultant in aviation

education. She was not only a skilled pilot but

earned both commercial and ground instructor

ratings. Selma was a leader in the International

Organization of Women Pilots and earned many

awards for her flying and for promoting women in

aviation. She was busting gender stereotypes!


Selma continued to fly, competing in air races. She

joined the Ninety-Nines. (The Ninety-Nines is an

international organization of women pilots that

provides mentoring, networking, and flight

scholarship).


Throughout the 1960s, Selma flew in Powder Puff

Derbies and three All Women’s Transcontinental Air

Races, where she earned quite a name for herself as

a competitive pilot.


At the age of eighty-two, Selma was living in Delray,

California. She was still flying and active in women’s

flying associations, particularly the International

Association of Licensed Women Pilots. In an

interview with a local newspaper, Selma was asked

about her time as a WASP. Her response was

compelling, “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. Now I realize 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.” Selma continued to

until just before her death at eighty nine years old.


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