Fly Gals of World War II
by Eleanor Thompson Wortz
Fly Gals of World War II, is a feisty young southern woman’s account of her two years with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Eleanor Thompson had determined at age 12 that she would fly. She earned a private pilot’s license at 19. At 21 she became the first WASP from North Carolina.
Eleanor and the other dedicated WASPs ferried planes across the country from factories to bases where they were needed, often with little rest between trips. They acted as test pilots, flew weather missions, towed targets for male pilots to practice firing live ammunition, and even chauffeured generals. It was dirty, tiring, and dangerous work, but filled their lives with excitement and adventure. Above all they were happy to be doing their part to win the war.
The WASP met fierce discrimination by the male dominated world and even endured shouts of “Go back to the kitchen.” Being maligned by the men she worked with didn’t stop Eleanor, any more than sandstorms stinging her skin and snow blocking her visibility while flying open cockpit. She believed she was invincible.
Eleanor’s amazing account of verve and valor provides an intimate look into an unheralded part of American history. Once privy to her story, no reader will question that she and the other brave women of the WASP deserved the Congressional Gold Medal, which they finally received in 2010. (Pictured below.)