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A riveting oral history/biography of a pioneering woman aviator. This is the story of an uncommon woman--high school cheerleader, campus queen, airplane pilot, wife, mother, politician, business-woman--who epitomizes the struggles and freedoms of women in 20th-century America, as they first began to believe they could live full lives and demanded to do so. World War II offered women the opportunity to contribute to the work of the country, and Nancy Batson Crews was one woman who made the most of her privileged beginnings and youthful talents and opportunities. In love with flying from the time she first saw Charles Lindbergh in Birmingham, (October 1927), Crews began her aviation career in 1939 as one of only five young women chosen for Civilian Pilot Training at the University of Alabama. Later, Crews became the 20th woman of 28 to qualify as an "Original" Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) pilot, employed during World War II shuttling P-38, P-47, and P-51 high-performance aircrafts from factory to staging areas and to and from maintenance and training sites. Before the war was over, 1,102 American women would qualify to fly Army airplanes. Many of these female pilots were forced out of aviation after the war as males returning from combat theater assignments took over their roles. But Crews continued to fly, from gliders to turbojets to J-3 Cubs, in a postwar career that began in California and then resumed in Alabama. The author was a freelance journalist looking to write about the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) when she met an elderly, but still vital, Nancy Batson Crews. The former aviatrix held a reunion of the surviving nine WAFS for an interview with them and Crews, recording hours of her own testimony and remembrance before Crews's death from cancer in 2001. After helping lead the fight in the '70s for WASP to win veteran status, it was fitting that Nancy Batson Crews was buried with full military honors.
History of the original women air pilots the U.S. government used to ferry and test planes during World War II. The Squadron was later incorporated into the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).
WASP of the Ferry Command is the story of the women ferry pilots who flew more than nine million miles in 72 different aircraft—115,000 pilot hours—for the Ferrying Division, Air Transport Command, during World War II. In the spring of 1942, Col. William H. Tunner lacked sufficient male pilots to move vital trainer aircraft from the factory to the training fields. Nancy Love found 28 experienced women pilots who could do the job. They, along with graduates of the Army's flight training school for women--established by Jacqueline Cochran--performed this duty until fall 1943, when manufacture of trainers ceased. In December 1943 the women ferry pilots went back to school to learn to fly high-performance WWII fighters, known as pursuits. By January 1944 they began delivering high performance P-51s, 47s, and 39s. Prior to D-Day and beyond, P-51s were crucial to the air war over Germany. They had the range to escort B-17s and B-24s from England to Berlin and back on bombing raids that ultimately brought down the German Reich. Getting those pursuits to the docks in New Jersey for shipment abroad became these women's primary job. Ultimately, more than one hundred WASP pursuit pilots were engaged in this vital movement of aircraft.
She flew the swift P-51 and the capricious P-38, but the heavy, four-engine B-17 bomber and C-54 transport were her forte. This is the story of Nancy Harkness Love who, early in World War II, recruited and led the first group of twenty-eight women to fly military aircraft for the U.S. Army. When the United States entered World War II, the Army needed pilots to transport or "ferry" its combat-bound aircraft across the United States for overseas deployment and its trainer airplanes to flight training bases. Most male pilots were assigned to combat preparation, leaving few available for ferrying jobs. Into this vacuum stepped Nancy Love and her civilian Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS). Love had advocated using women as ferry pilots as early as 1940. Jackie Cochran envisioned a more ambitious plan, to train women to perform a variety of the military's flight-related jobs stateside. The Army implemented both programs in the fall of 1942, but Jackie's idea piqued General Hap Arnold's interest and, by summer 1943, her concept had won. The women's programs became one under the name Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), with Cochran as the Director of Women Pilots and Love as the Executive for WASP. Nancy Love believed that the women attached to the military needed to be on equal footing with the men and given the same opportunities to prove their abilities and mettle. Young women serving today as combat pilots owe much to Love for creating the opportunity for women to serve. Her foresight and tenacity nearly seventy years ago helped ensure their future. Now author Sarah Byrn Rickman, aviation historian, presents the first full-length biography of Nancy Love and her role in the WAFS and WASP programs, Her book will appeal to all with a love of flight.

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