In our August 2010 issue, Melissa Jordan tells the story of her mother, Geraldine “Jerry” Hardman Jordan, one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, of World War II. “My mother [was] indelibly marked by her wartime experience,” writes Jordan. “That time in my mother’s life created some of her most treasured memories.”
From 1943 to 1944, the WASP delivered 12,652 airplanes on domestic ferrying missions, flying some 60 million miles. The airplanes they ferried included primary and secondary trainers; single-engine pursuit ships, two- and four-engine bombers; and two-engine cargo airplanes. Here, Hardman tests out a Vultee BT-13 Valiant.
See the gallery below for more images from Jerry Hardman’s remarkable life.
“By their second day at Avenger Field, [the WASPs] were climbing in and out of the 175-horsepower Fairchild PT-19s as if their primary phase trainers were Rolls-Royces,” writes Sally Van Wagenen Keil in her WASP history Those Wonderful Women in Their Flying Machines. “As more classes arrived at Avenger Field, there would be as many as fifty planes in the air at one time.”
After picking up a PT-19 (much like the one shown here) from the Fairchild factory in Hagerstown, Maryland, in February 1944, Hardman wrote in a letter home, “They sure picked a swell time of the year to start ferrying open ships again. One thing, I’m going to set down as often as I want to—can’t see any sense in slowly freezing to death as long as there’s an airport handy.”