Mary Helen Gosnell Chappell
May 28, 1916 – August 2, 1993
Class: 44-W-6
Training Location: Avenger Field (Sweetwater, Tex.)
Assigned Bases: Grand Island Army Air Field (Neb.)
Planes flown: PT-17, BT-13, AT-6, B-17, C-45, UC-78, B-29, C-46, C-54

​Mary was born in Lawerenceville, Illinois, on May 28, 1916.

Mary joined the WASP in the summer of 1944 and graduated on August 4, 1944, with 72 other women. After graduation she was assigned to Grand Island Army Air Base in Grand Island, Nebraska. While stationed there she learned to fly the B-17, C-46, C-47, and C-54. She was the copilot for General Frank Armstrong, CG/17th Operational Training Wing.

Mary was one of 6 women stationed at Grand Island. She became lifelong friends with one Dora Dougherty-Strother, who was a graduate of class 43-3. After serving at Grand Island, Both Mary and Dora were sent to Wendover Army Air Base a top-secret base in Wendover, Utah, where they supported the transport and ferrying for the atomic bomb project. They were there under the direction of Col. Paul Tibbetts. (B-29s are also in use at this base. Dora had earlier been drafted by Col. Tibbetts and given three days intensive training in the B-29. Dora and another WASP, Dorothea Johnson, flew the B-29 for less than a month. When word got back to Washington, DC., that was the end of that.)

The original photo used in the September 1987 edition of Airman Magazine given to Annette Bonaro by Mary herself just after Annette enlisted in the Air Force. She signed the back “To Annette, I’m so proud of you- Love Mary Chappell”

In October, 1944, Mary and Dora were sent on a shuttle mission to Albuquerque, New Mexico. They are delivering top secret hardware and to maintain secrecy, the two women a locked into the cockpit of the cargo plan before the cargo was loaded and remained there until the cargo was delivered and unloaded. Luckily, there were not inflight incidents that they could not have escaped from.

Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas, WASP Collection
WWII Women Pilots


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