Slightly delayed posting, but how could we forget to upload this great picture from the 2017 Flight Suit Social in Orlando, FL?
Ladies, last March the 1st class of Naval Aviators where inducted into the WAI Hall of Fame. One of them (Barbara Allen Rainey) was represented by John Rainey (her widower and their 2 daughters). We all felt it was quite an honor. I give special thanks to Lucy Young for doing the leg work necessary to get us nominated. To digress a bit...Barbara was killed in an aircraft mishap July 13, 1982 as a flight instructor, along with her student ENS Knowlton practicing touch and go landings at Middleton Field, in Evergreen, Alabama. I was in another VT squadron as an instructor when the mishap occurred. My husband and I passed through Evergreen on our way to Pensacola a couple of years ago. We stopped by the field to take a walk down memory lane. There was nothing there such as a marker or memorial. I talked to the FBO Manager. He was there and remembers the mishap, but told me no one has visited the site to his best recolletion. Barbara was the first women military aviator post the WASPs. She was truly a trail blazer. Even though she was not a member of our organization as it was incorporated later in 1982, I think it would be fitting for WMA to raise the funds to create a memorial at Middleton. If anyone is interested in helping me determine what is appropriate and assist me with raising funds, please contact me at email@example.com.
That's right! This year we have a ton of exciting events sprinkled throughout the Women in Aviation International Conference in Orlando March 3-7, 2017. For starters we will be giving out our scholarships so stay tuned for the winners.
On Friday at 7 pm we will also be hosting our annual WMA Flight Suit Social, so stop by the WMA booth on the Exhibit Floor for location and further details, and as always we will be set up for new membership. Looking forward to seeing everyone there!
Additionally there are several different education sessions hosted by WMA leadership and membership. If you want to check those out and support your fellow women military aviators, they are as follows:
Transition from Military to Commercial Aviation Panel
Presented by: Col Julie Tizard, Capt Bebe O’Neil, Capt Kathi Durst, Capt Margie Varuska, Capt Lucy Young and FO Allison Sutter
Location: Monterrey 2
Time: Saturday, March 4, 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Women in Naval Aviation Panel
Location: Monterrey 2
Time: Friday, March 3, 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Surviving the Air Force Application Process Panel
Presented by: Maj Dawn Hildebrand, Maj John Kerrigan, Capt Monica Riggs and Capt Meaghan Camp
Location: Monterrey 2
Time: Friday, March 3, 1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.
Air Combat Operations Panel
Panel: Air Force B-1 bomber pilot, Navy F-18 fighter pilot, Army Apache helicopter pilot, Marine Corps F/A-18 attack pilot
Col Kathy Cosand, Col Julie Tizard, Moderators
Location: Monterrey 2
Time: Friday, March 3, 4:15 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.
We had a great time connecting with new members and reconnecting with old friends at the annual WAI conference March 10-12 in Nashville, TN. This was one of our most successful conferences and we are very happy to welcome 56 new (and some long lost) members to WMA. As membership grows, so does our ability to provide scholarships and keep the legacy and camaraderie of women military aviators alive. It was great to see everyone who came by the booth, and we were especially glad to bring a few students into our fold (with a free one-year membership). Also, thanks to everyone who bought a raffle ticket at the Flight Suit Social, we raised $685! The money will be split between our scholarship fund and the WMA TWU archive endowment fund. Mark your calendar now for next March in Orlando, FL, we hope to see you there! Flight suit photo by: John Riedel
by Barbara Garwood
The Women In Aviation International Conference is fast approaching in Nashville! One of the educational sessions is sponsored by Woman Military Aviators and will feature a panel of five women pilots who have served in combat. The panel will be moderated by Barbara Garwood (Captain American Airlines, Retired) and Peggy Carnahan (Captain, NetJets) both former USAF pilots.
One member of the panel is Lt. Col. (USMC) Alison “Rocky” Thompson, a 1994 graduate of the US Naval Academy, who became a Naval Aviator in the CH-53E helicopter in 1997. Her first unit was HMH-464 (Marine Heavy Helicopter) and she became an Air Mission Commander, Functional Check Pilot and Weapons and Tactics Instructor. In 2000, she deployed with her unit to Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, joining a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force.
Two of her deployments later were with the HMM-365 (Marine Medium Helicopter unit) and the 26 Marine Expeditionary Unit. These missions included humanitarian operations in Albania, earthquake relief in Turkey, and the combat entry force into Kosovo.
In the photo above, Lt. Col. Alison Thompson is standing beside a CH-53E Super Stallion. The day after 9-11, then Captain Thompson was tasked to fly to New York City in the CH-53E to provide support where needed in the aftermath of the Towers’ destruction. As all aircraft in the US were grounded after the attack, that mission was cancelled.
But just a few months later, Thompson was now piloting the CH-53E in Afghanistan, deploying the Marines who took Camp Rhino and Kandahar Air Field, and then invaded the Tora Bora mountains. This woman aviator has seen combat and will share some of her experiences with the audience.
Lt. Col. Thompson is one of the first women to pilot a Marine aircraft and the first woman to command a Marine squadron in combat. Her many awards include a Bronze Star, and Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards), Individual Air Medal and Strike/Flight with number 10, Navy Commendation Medal (2 awards), Navy Achievement Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon.
The photo above is Thompson and her officers at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan in 2012.
Conde Nast Traveler, Written by Sebastian Modak March 08, 2016
In celebration of International Women's Day, Air India Flight 173 took off on Sunday from Delhi to San Francisco, with an all-female crew, making it the longest flight staffed entirely by women in history.
From the ground staff overseeing the boarding process, to the four people operating the controls, an Air India Boeing 777-LR that took off from Delhi on Sunday was entirely staffed by women. Seventeen hours later it landed in San Francisco, and—following some well-deserved rest—the same crew will make the return flight on Tuesday, International Women's Day.
The airline will be operating 20 all-women crewed flights domestically and internationally to celebrate International Women's Day, but this particular trek is noteworthy for its length: The 14,500-kilometer (9,000-mile) route, led by Captain Kshamta Bajpayee and Captain Shubhangi Singh, makes it the longest flight ever operated by an entirely female crew.
"This year for the first time, on the world's longest non-stop flight, entire flight operations from cockpit crew to cabin crew, check-in staff, doctor, customer care staff, ATC (air traffic control) and the entire ground-handling...were handled by women," Air India said in a release.
This continues a tradition that started when Air India was the first carrier to ever operate a flight with an all-women crew on a domestic flight from Calcutta to Silchar in 1985.
Other airlines have garnered similar headlines in the past, including Air Zimbabwe and Ethiopian Airlines, which operated all-women flights from Harare to Victoria Falls and Addis Ababa to Bangkok, respectively, and an Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight between Atlanta and Nashville in 2009, which was flown by the first all-female African-American crew.
As a celebration of International Women's Day, these flights mark important milestones for women in aviation. But, the fact that these occasions still make headlines is also a reminder of how much work there is to do, before there is even a semblance of equal gender representation in the profession.
According to FAA data, just 6 percent of commercial pilots in the United States are women, a number that has only increased by about 2 percentage points, since 1998. Organizations such as Women in Aviation International are trying to correct the discrepancy through flight school scholarships, educational outreach, and awareness programs, and airlines like JetBlue and British Airways have launched training programs that aim to increase diversity in the cockpit. While it is still all-too-rare to hear "This is your captain speaking," coming through the PA in a woman's voice, this Air India flight is an important step forward for the male-dominated aviation industry.
With the August 13, 2015, passing of Gertrude Meserve Tubbs Levalley, 95, a finite group of 28 extraordinary women — known as “the WAFS” or “the Originals” — all are gone.
Gertrude was the last of Nancy Love’s elite Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron; the first 28 women hired by the Army Air Forces, specifically to ferry military aircraft for their country in World War II.
As of March 10, 2010, when the WASP received their Congressional Gold Medals, five of “the Originals” remained. With the passing of Barbara “Donnie” Donahue Ross August 21, 2010, Phyllis Burchfield Fulton June 21, 2012, Barbara “B.J.” Erickson London July 7, 2013, and Florene Miller Watson February 4, 2014, Gertrude was the sole survivor. And now she, too, is gone. Three of them — Gertrude, B.J. and Donnie — were present in the Capitol when the Gold Medals were handed out.
Nancy Love was hired by Col. William H. Tunner in the summer of 1942 to find and recruit experienced women pilots to ferry liaison and primary trainer aircraft for his command, the Ferrying Division, the main arm of the newly formed Air Transport Command. A woman had to have 500 hours to qualify. Most of the 28 had far more than that — including Gertrude, a young flight instructor with 1964 hours. They were the first squadron of women pilots who later became known as WASP and they were the first of the more than 300 WASP who eventually flew for the Ferry Command under Colonel, later General Tunner.
Gertrude Tubbs, of Boston, MA, was number 12 to qualify.
“Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I wanted to fly. Nothing else interested me,” she told this author when I interviewed her in 1999. She won a contest, the prize for which was a thirty-minute flight. She was hooked. She was 16. She excelled in math and science and by the time she had graduated from high school, she had notched a few hours of instruction. “Then I was able to concentrate on getting all of my flying licenses — private, limited commercial, commercial, and flight instructor.” She earned her instrument rating in 1939, when she was 19.
Like many of the WAFS and WASP, CPT gave Gertrude her break. “We had a little trouble with the insurance company. They had never insured a female pilot before, but CPT needed instructors. I taught eight classes at Logan Airport [Boston] then transferred to Canton- Norwood. My first class was a group from MIT. The MIT boys had to wear a suit and tie, but the boys from Harvard wore sport coats. I also taught students from Northeastern University and Tufts. I dated a couple of them — after training. They told us never to date someone while he was your student.”
Given her hours and experience, one would think she was a shoo-in, but first she had to earn her 200-horsepower rating, which she did immediately.
Gertie spent her entire WAFS/WASP career in Wilmington, DE, at New Castle Army Air Base as part of the 2nd Ferrying Group. She went to pursuit school as part of the first class — December 1943 — graduating January 10, 1944. Immediately after graduation, she and all the other male and female graduates picked up P-51s at Long Beach and ferried them to Newark, NJ, before reporting back to their squadrons.
Gertrude, Nancy Batson and Teresa James were later checked out on the twin-engine C-60, which was used to fly the P-47 ferry pilots back from Newark to Farmingdale — on Long Island — where they were stationed, TDY for two weeks at a time throughout 1944. Rather than navigating back across New York City and over to Long Island via land transport, it was the quickest return possible so that the ferry pilots could pick up yet another P-47, fly it 50 miles west as the crow flies, and deliver it to the docks for shipment abroad. Gertrude delivered 200 P-47s between January and December 1944, in addition to her periodic C-60 flights and other pursuit aircraft.
In April 1944, she married fellow pilot Major Charles J. Tubbs. And that changed her life drastically because soon after the WASP deactivation, December 20, 1944, she found she was expecting her oldest son, Charles J. Tubbs Jr. She and Charlie added twin boys to their family and Gertrude left the flying to Charlie, who was an executive pilot with Curtiss-Wright in Caldwell, NJ.
In 1969, they moved to Florida. After Charlie’s death, Gertrude married Russell LeValley, who died in 1998. In 2008, her son Paul moved her to Knoxville, TN, to be nearer him and his family. In 2010, Charlie Jr. escorted his mom to Washington to receive the Gold Medal.
By Sarah Byrn Rickman
Photo of Gertrude taken in 2009 at the memorial ceremony (held prior to the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony) for the 38 WASP who lost their lives.
Women Military Aviators, Inc.
Preserving the past, promoting the present, protecting the future.