Mary Holmes Howson
February 16, 1919 – April 16, 1944
Class: 44-W-4 Trainee
Entered Army Air Force flight training: Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas, November 1, 1943
Mary was borne in Wayne, Pennsylvania. She majored in art at Smith College and became a teacher after getting a teaching fellowship and studying at UCLA. After teaching for a term, she also studied at Bryn Mawr in aerial mapping.
Just before joining the WASP, she was working for the U. S. Geological Survey Office in Washington, D.C. and spent every spare moment learning navigation and practicing flying at a nearby field.
On April 16, 1944, while returning from a cross-country flight in a PT-19, WASP Trainee Mary Howson was killed in a mid-air collision in the traffic pattern at Avenger Field.
Mary Howson and Jayne Elizabeth Erickson were both training on this final day of their lives. Mary had been on a long cross-country flight in an AT-6 and was preparing to land at Avenger Field. Elizabeth is just about to complete her first solo in an AT-6 and is also planning to land. They are approaching Avenger Field from different directions and they are on a collision course. Elizabeth is busy getting ready to do practice landing and Mary is looking into the sun. They collide. Elizabeth fell to the ground in her plane. Mary bailed out but was too low for her parachute to open. Mary was killed just three weeks before her scheduled graduation.