Lois L. Nash
April 12, 1921- April 24, 2011
Class: 43-W-8
Training Location: Avenger Field (Sweetwater, Tex.)
Assigned Bases: Hondo Army Air Field (Tex.), Dodge City Army Air Base (Kan.), Pueblo Army Air Base (Colo.) and Walker Army Air Base (Victoria, Kansas)
Planes flown: PT-19, BT-13, AT-6, B-17, B-26, C-47, UC-78

Born and raised in Ferndale, Michigan, Lois fell in love with flying at age five after riding with her family in a Ford Tri Motor.  It wasn’t until years later, when she signed up for the CPT program at Michigan State Teachers College (now Eastern Michigan University), that she was given an opportunity to learn how to fly.

As a woman living in the midst of World War II, she never really thought about flying commercially. But she knew she could fly as a hobby, as a private pilot. It would just take a lot of money for lessons.

Attending college and working as a teacher, Lois continued to acquire flying hours. Nash had no idea then that a president and war would give her an opportunity she’d never thought of.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt put the Civilian Pilot Training program into place.

“It was a wonderful opportunity. When I called, it was full of young men already,” Nash said. “Three weeks later, a fella dropped out. So they called me.”

It was a $25 course and a window to her passion. Two years later, Nash received a call from the government. They needed pilots to train the men so they could go overseas and fight. At the time, she said no. She had to finish school. In June, she graduated. By July she was headed on a plane to Sweetwater, Texas.

In 1943, she finished school in June and in July, she was accepted into the Army Air Forces experimental flight training program for women and headed to Texas. Lois and 94 other young women pilots paid their way to Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas to become WASP class 43-8.  Less than half that number eventually graduated.

During the eighteen months Lois flew for the Army Air Forces, her husband, Albert E. Nash, was serving in North Africa and Italy.  As a WASP, Lois flew fifteen different types of aircraft for her country, but the B-26 Martin Marauder remained her all-time favorite.  When the WASP were disbanded on Dec. 20, 1944, Lois returned home and, eventually, she and Albert began raising their 2 sons.

In a 2009 interview with Independent Mail Nash recounts the time she was flying from Pueblo, Colo., to Tucson, Ariz. The soldiers were in the back of the plane. About 60 minutes in the air, one of the engines quit. Luckily, she was able to turn around and head back to Pueblo. But all the way, the plane was losing altitude.

“I remember looking down at the airport runway and seeing fire trucks, ambulances, and like 100 people. I just made a nice big turn and used most of the runway to land,” Nash said, looking at me and smiling. “That was the first incident we had. At first the men weren’t sure they wanted women pilots. But they soon learned. ‘Hey, these girls can fly.’ ”

And fly they did.

WASP Lois Nash with her bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal in front of the podium, Emancipation Hall, US Capitol
March 10, 2010

Lois spent the last few years sharing her WASP experiences with local groups and being honored for her service. On March 10, 2010, she was one of approximately 175 WASP who attended a ceremony in Washington, DC, to award the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal, highest honor that Congress can award a civilian.  It was the largest event ever held inside the Capitol building.

Sources:
Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas
WASP Final Flight Blog
Independent Mail

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