Shirley Slade Teer
Class 43-W-5
April 4, 1921 – April 26, 2000

 
Planes flown: B-26, B-29
Assigned bases:
Love Field (Dallas, Tex.)
Dodge City Army Air Base (Kan.)
Harlingen Army Air Field (Tex.)

 

Shirley Slade was one of about 1,100 chosen for a group of all female pilots, called the Women Airforce Service Pilots — WASP for short. She was trained to fly the B-26 and B-39.

The July 19, 1943 issue of LIFE magazine included a story titled “Girl Pilots,” covering the WASPs’ program for training new female pilots, which was conducted at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. Miss Slade, a trainee in WASP Class 43-5, was one of the trainees featured in the story, and her image graced the cover of that issue as well.

The photo shows Slade on the wing of a plane and looked off into an uncertain future. Slade—clad in her flight suit with pigtails guarding against Texas wind—was posing for the July 19, 1943 issue of Life magazine, and the composition between the aircraft and its operator was a juxtaposition spelled out in the cover headline: “Air Force Pilot.”

WASP trainee pilot Shirley Slade on the cover of the 19 Jul 1943 issue of Life Magazine

During her time in service Shirley was stationed at three different bases (Love Field, Dallas, Texas; Dodge City AAF, Kansas and Harlingen AAF, Texas) and primarily flew Bell P-39 Airacobras and Martin B-26 Marauders. Both the P-39 and B-26 were notoriously difficult aircraft to fly.

Shirley Slade passed away on April 26, 2000, as “Shirley Slade Teer”, at 79 years old. She wasn’t alive to be a part of the 2010 ceremony at which the remaining 200 WASP women were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal bestowed upon them by Congress.

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