The Millstone Times June 2022

Interesting People Throughout History Shirley Slade Teer, Female WW2 Pilot, WASP By Pam Teel

It’s time that we pay homage to the thousands of wom en who lent a hand for the good of their country, wheth er facing life and death situations in war zones, or be hind the scenes working in factories keeping up supply inventory during World War 11. 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. She was born on April 4th, 1921. At twenty-three, Shirley, a trainee in WASP Class 43-5, was one of many trainees featured in a story in a 1943 issue of Life magazine. Her image graced the cover of that issue as well. The article covered the WASPs’ program for training new female pilots, which was conducted

racing pilots of her generation. She set numerous records and was the first wom an to break the sound barrier on 18 May 1953. Cochran was the wartime head of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) (1943–1944) (along with Nancy Love) which employed about 1,100 civilian American women in a non-combat role to ferry planes from factories to port cities, and was later a sponsor of the Mercury 13. Nancy Harkness Love (February 14, 1914 – October 22, 1976), born Hannah Lin coln Harkness, was an American pilot and commander during World War II. She earned her pilot's license at age 16. She worked as a test pilot and air racer in the 1930s. During World War II she convinced William H. Tunner to look to set up a group of female pilots to ferry aircraft from factories to air bases. This proposal was eventually approved as the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. Love command ed this unit and later all ferrying operations in the newly formed Women Airforce Service Pilots. She was awarded the Air Medal for her work during the war and was appointed lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force Reserve in 1948. By June 1943, Love was commanding four different squadrons of WAFS at Love Field, Texas; New Cas tle, Delaware; Romulus, Michigan and Long Beach, California. The WAFS' number had greatly increased because of the addition of graduates of the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) at Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas, an organization championed and headed by Jacqueline Cochran. On August 5, 1943, the WAFS merged with the WFTD and became a single entity: the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Love was named the executive for all WASP ferrying operations. Under her command, female pilots flew almost every type military aircraft then in the Army Air Forces' inventory, and their record of achievement proved remarkable. Love was certified in 19 military aircraft, becoming the first woman to be certified to fly the latest military aircraft, including the Douglas C-54 Skymaster, North American B-25 Mitchell, and along with Betty Gillies, the first to fly the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. In Dallas, Love was also checked out on the North American P-51 Mustang, the USAAF's "hottest" fighter. In 1944, after the WASPs were disbanded, Love continued to work on reports detailing the work of the Air Transport Command.

at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. The photo shows Slade dressed in her flight suit, on the wing of a plane looking off into an uncertain future. To her left reads, “Air Force Pilot” in small lettering. 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. In 1942, the United States was faced with a severe shortage of pilots, so an experi mental program to replace men with females was created. Those 1,100 young women were all civilian volunteers and they flew almost every type of military aircraft. They were banned from actual combat but still were in the midst of the fighting. They ferried new planes long distances from factories to military bases, and departures points across the country. They tested newly overhauled planes and towed targets to give ground and air gunners training shooting with live ammo. It was unacceptable in those days to have women replacing men. It just wasn’t ac cepted. The WASP program was eventually canceled after two years, partly because the war was coming to an end. In that two -year time frame, 38 of the women died in service. The other women, because they were civilians, had to pay their own bus fare home. None of the wasp women were granted military status until 1970, but they finally did get it. Jacqueline Cochran, leader of the WASPS, would go on later to become the first woman to break the sound barrier. It was announced in 1944 that Shirley was to marry her field flight commander, Major William Berkely. Shirley returned to her hometown of Chicago after the war. Her second husband was Gene Lafitte Teer. 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 on them by Congress. Two other prominent female pilots who were part of the WASPS were: Jacqueline Cochran (May 11, 1906 – August 9, 1980) was an American pilot and business executive. She pioneered women's aviation as one of the most prominent


Mel Stewart Musical Entertainment

Serving Monmouth, Mercer and Middlesex County “No JobToo Big Or Too Small”

All types of repairs and installations, Finished Basements, Bathrooms, Kitchens, etc.

Midl-Accordionist and Singer

Keyboardist and Entertainer


Lic. #13VH04304300 *Fully Insured

Office Phone Number 609-619-3406

Cell Phone Number 917-584-1140

BobYacovelli • 732-735-1540

www. 17

Made with FlippingBook Online newsletter creator