On December 7, 1941, 22-year-old pilot Cornelia Fort essentially became the very first American woman pilot in a combat zone while flying over Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. With hundreds of hours of flying experience, the Nashville native was one of the most experienced pilots in the country and while two other civilian planes were shot out of the sky she landed her plane and made it through Japanese strafing.
After surviving the Japanese attack Fort left Hawaii when the US government banned civilian flying, she returned to the mainland in February 1942. Seven months later, she was among the first 25 pilots the War Department recruited for the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS). WAFS — who would later become known as WASP — pilots supported the war effort by delivering military planes to bases throughout the United States.
In March 1943, Cornelia Fort was killed by a midair collision while on a ferrying mission to Dallas. She was the first American woman pilot to die on active duty as apart of the Auxiliary service.
February 12, 2011, 7:58pm / 70