top of page

They Soared!

It seems I took last week off! I don’t know where the time goes, but it was mid week, before I realized I had missed a Sunday post. Well, it is summertime and the livin’ is easy, right? Well it is summer, but I have been slaving over the manuscript for Roared, to clean it up, edit (again) and get it ready for publication. Maybe that is why I lost track of time. I think it will be well worth all the hard work. You will be the judge of that, dear readers. The following are two excerpts from said book. Enjoy.

Elizabeth “Betty” Huyler Gillies was a squadron leader of the WAFS and assigned to the 2nd Ferrying Group at New Castle Army Air Base in Wilmington, Delaware. The first woman to fly the P-47 was Betty Gillies. This was a fighter plane produced by the American aerospace Company from 1941 to 1945. It carried eight 50-caliber machine guns and could carry five-inch rockets or a bomb load of 2,500 pounds. They tested her before she could fly the craft and that “check” included emergency procedures and flight characteristics of the plane and a complete explanation of aircraft systems. The P-47 was a single seat aircraft. Her first flight in the Thunderbolt was also her first solo flight. I can’t help but wonder if she was anxious or excited about flying this craft by herself.

Maggie Gee heard about the WASP program and decided that was what she was going to do. She joined. She and two other friends with the same idea took flying lessons, pooled their money, bought a car for $25 and drove to Texas, learning to drive a car on the way, probably the first of many adventures for them. For six months, they trained at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. Training complete, one of her duties was towing targets for anti-aircraft gunnery practice. She was a moving target and those boys on the ground used live ammunition! “I learned to parachute and make emergency landings,” Gee said. “We did the same intense work the male pilots had to do.” Maggie trained other pilots when stationed in Nevada, both male and female. She joined the army in the 1950s and ran service clubs in Germany during the height of the cold war. Maggie was one of two Chinese Americans in the WASP.


bottom of page