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)

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“You aren’t supposed to talk to the cadets,” she said.

“I wasn’t talking to him. I just looked at him.”

“Well,” she said, with a touch of mischief in her eyes, “you’re not supposed to look at them either!”

*      *    *

Forty-five-mile-an-hour crosswinds swept Love Field. Grounded, we sat around the flight room waiting for the winds to change or the weather to improve. Groups of girls visited, laughter bubbling up from shared exploits.

“Let’s go flying.” A self-assured check pilot, with an overlarge chip on his shoulder, loomed over me.

“Nobody’s flying today!” I answered.

“Well, if you can’t fly in 45-mile-an-hour crosswinds, you can’t fly.”

Can you imagine? I think he looked around that room and picked me out because I’m tiny. But my spirit wasn’t tiny.

“I will show you!” I thought, my eyes never leaving his.

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