December 17, 1903, Kitty Hawk, NC.

 

A cold, mist-laden wind blew off the steel grey ocean throwing shards of sand into the eyes of the shivering spectators. Overhead dark lowering, pregnant clouds threatened to spill their contents. Shivering under long wool cloaks the small crowd waited in silence, all eyes focused on the top of a small sandy mount known as Kill Devil Hill.

 

Two men with a funny looking flying machine were trying to beat the odds against nature and prove man could, indeed, fly. And fly they did, for the breathtaking distance of 120 feet before crash-landing on the hard-packed winter-drenched sand. The crowd broke into wild elation. At long last man had conquered the skies!

 

Aircraft continued to develop by quantum leaps from the awkward machine first flown by the Wright brothers that historical day. By WWI the light canvas and balsa wood bi-planes were first used for reconnaissance of enemy positions by both the Germans as well as the Americans along the Maginot Line. The Germans were the first to mount a machine gun in front of the cockpit turning the plane into a fighting machine. Although many of the first planes shot off their own propellers, human ingenuity prevailed. The guns were remounted in a higher position with the aces taking to the skies and dogfights were born.

 

After WWI air societies became an elite all-male club. Few women were admitted on equal merit. Several well-known aviatrixes were Jacqueline Cochran, Nancy Harkness Love, Anne Marrow Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. Even fewer Negroes were admitted to the exclusive club. Bessie Coleman, the first Negro aviatrix, traveled all the way to Germany to obtain a private pilot's license. Her instructor was none other than the Red Baron. She was best known for her barnstorming skills. Her flights broke not only the gender but also the color barrier long before the Civil Rights movement by her refusal to fly in shows that segregated colored people from whites. She died in a tragic crash in 1926.

 

With the disappearance of Amelia Earhart on her world flight July 2, 1937, Jacqueline Cochran became the undisputed Lady of the Skies. Her ambitions were boundless. She set her sights on the military and, for a brief time in history, she succeeded in showing the American people that an aviatrix was capable of flight jobs originally relegated to the male only club of the Army Air Corps.

 

This is the story of her courageous group of women known as the Women Airforce Service Pilots, affectionately known as the WASP. Although it is a work of fiction, names of places and dates have been as strictly adhered to as possible. These women were the unsung heroes of the skies.