We Represented All Women

During World War II, WASPs proved that an airplane couldn’t tell the difference between a male and female pilot.

Vi Cowden during her service with the WASPs in the 1940s. (Courtesy Jonna Hoppes)

(Continued from page 10)

But by that time, we were together and on our way.

Oh, I love flying! And I love the clouds. Sometimes I would be flying in a group and see a pretty cloud. I’d scoot over and take a closer look at it. And I’d hear one of the other pilots on the radio say, “That’s Vi out there sitting on the clouds again!”

I was one of only 114 women selected for pursuit training. Men and women trained together and were broken into units of four per instructor. There were three men in my group of four, and with these guys, I felt equal. I mean, they accepted me as a fellow pilot. But our instructor had never flown with a woman before and was a basket case.

“Well, how’s she doing?” one of the guys would ask.

“I don’t know,” our instructor would answer. “I just don’t know if she can cut it.”

You are washed out in three days if you can’t make the grade. And on that third day, I was really worried.

“Well,” I thought to myself, “this is probably going to be it.”

I went up with our instructor that morning and he was on the controls the whole time. I mean, I never got the feel of that airplane—ever.

When we landed, he looked over at me and said, “You know, that was a lousy landing.”

“I know,” I said. “That was yours. You know, you haven’t let me fly one time! I never got a chance to fly at all!”

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