Did you know that the WASP were not the only American women flying military aircraft during the war? In the spring of 1942, Cecil “Teddy” Kenyon, Barbara Kibbee Jayne, and Elizabeth “Lib” Hooker were recruited by Bud Gillies, head of testing and Flight Operations at Grumman Aircraft, to be the first women test pilots of naval aircraft in the US!

At that time there was a shortage of pilots, but Gillies, whose wife Betty was a pilot and a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), had tremendous faith in these women and in their abilities to get the job done. They had already been flying couriers for Grumman, and Gilles set them to work testing warplanes before shipping them off to the Navy for combat.

Their first assignment was to test the F6F Hellcat right off the assembly line. On that day, Grumman closed the airfield, telling personnel to go home in case “things didn’t work out”. Bud Gillies, however, invited the press and these women soon became media darlings.

Share:

More Posts

John J. Suggs

John J. Suggs October 8, 1915 – October 10, 2013 Class: 43-E-SE Graduation date: 5/28/1943 Rank at time of graduation: 2nd Lt. Unit: 302nd Fighter Squadron Service # 0804561 From: Terre Haute, IN John Jacob

Read More »

Alyce Stevens Rohrer

Alyce Stevens Rohrer September 07, 1922 – February 01, 2024 Class: 44-W-4 Planes flown: PT-17, PT-19, BT-13, AT-6, AT-11, UC-78 Training Location: Avenger Field (Sweetwater, Tex.) Assigned bases: Perrin Army Air Base (Sherman, Tex.) “Excuses

Read More »

Mary Jane Stephens Meikle

Mary Jane Stephens Meikle April 6, 1921- April 16, 2007 Class: 43-W-4 Training Location: Houston Municipal Airport (Tex.) and Avenger Field (Sweetwater, Tex.) Assigned Bases: New Castle Army Air Base (Wilmington, Del.) Planes flown: PT-19,

Read More »

Lloyd L. Radcliffe

Lloyd Leslie Radcliffe October 12, 1925 – December 31, 2005 Class: 45-B-SE Graduation date: 4/15/1945 Rank at time of graduation: 2nd Lt Unit: 99th Fighter Squadron Service # 0842584 From: New Haven CT Lloyd L.

Read More »

Send Us A Message