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 9)

And I did. In fact, in a relatively short time, I became so accustomed to cross-country flights that I could fly from Dallas or Long Beach to Newark without maps. I knew all the calls, how far between checkpoints and just how long it would take. It because so routine that sometimes, when we flew in groups, we’d have picnics in the air. A bunch of us would pick up box lunches from the Red Cross and take them with us.

“I’m eating my sandwich,” someone would call out over the radio, and we would all eat our sandwiches.

“I’m eating my apple.”

I swear you could hear the crunch of crisp apples in that silent bowl of the sky. Each of us sat in our own plane enjoying a picnic over the airwaves. We had such fun!

After paying my dues, I earned the right to lead some of the flights. I worked out the flight plans and kept the group together. When I was in charge, I would take off first, using the radio to communicate with my fellow pilots. Each mission required code names and I’d call out, sometimes over a restricted frequency, “Leader Coconut took off.”

“Coconut One took off,” the next pilot called out.

“Coconut Two took off.”

“Coconut Three took off.”

And so on, until finally we would hear from the tower.

“Will the Coconuts please get off this frequency!”

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