Mary Louise Bowden Brown
May 16, 1916- January 29, 2013
Planes flown: PT-19, BT-15, AT-6, C-47, P-39, P-40, P-51, P-63, PQ-8, YPQ-12
Assigned bases: Romulus Army Air Base (Mich.)
Born May 16, 1916, in Overbrook, Pennsylvania, Louise became interested in flying after meeting the pilot/owners of Buck’s Airport in Woodruff, New Jersey. She accepted an invitation to join their flying club, which gave her the opportunity to solo and build up her hours in a 50 hp Porterfield.
After hearing about the WASP training program, Louise applied and was accepted into the class of 43-4. Of the 151 women pilots who entered the training program, Louise was one of 112 women who graduated and earned their silver wings–August 7, 1943. After graduation, she received Army orders to report to the Ferry Command at Romulus, Michigan.
As Louise later wrote, * “We flew small planes at first and later larger and faster ones. Among them the PQ-8 and YPQ-12A. These were radio controlled. Flee Wings built 12 of the YPQ and I delivered two from Wright Field. Flew the PT-19, BT-15, AT-6 and C-467 for a white instrument card, then we were checked out in the five single fighters, P-39, P-63, P-40, P-47 and P-51, the Fairchild P-24, a Norseman, and a Howard.”
After WASP deactivation in December 1944, Louise earned her instructor’s and single- and multi-engine ratings, and taught flying for six years.
She became interested in ministry and served as chaplain at a 125-bed hospital in Fulton, Kentucky for young women inmates of the Hickman, Kentucky jail. She expanded her interest into a full-time, traveling career for the Presbyterian Church. For 21 years, she worked at a 525-bed hospital in Maharastra, West India, then transferred to Kathmandu, Nepal for four years.
After retiring, Louise returned to Kentucky and married Sam Brown. However, she didn’t slow her pace. She earned a black belt in Tae Kwan Do. A short time after her husband died, she moved to New Hampshire to be near her sister.
Photograph of a large group of WASP surrounding Jacqueline Cochran who seems to be talking in the center. A typed note is taped to the back of the photo naming some of the women in the photo and reads, ” Flight 2, 43-W-4, Rosalie Grohman, Louise Bowden, Lyda Dunham, Virginia Luthrell, Mary Hines, Jeanie Thatu, Tita Corbet, Jean Tredy, Isabel Madison, Violet Wierebiecki, Ruth Underwood, Jackie Cochran, Jane Waite, Eddie Pedlar, Jeanne Robertson, Mary Edith Engle, Kitty Leaming, Henrietta Richmond, Margery Moore, Marge Hauser, Eleanor Moriarity, Jane Champlain, Betty Naftz, Genevieve Brown.
Photo courtesy The Portal to Texas History