‘Let Women Fly!’

“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung, and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength, and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.” — Excerpts of a 1980 presidential proclamation issued by President Jimmy Carter, declaring a National Women’s History Week. Seven years later, U.S. Congress designated March as National Women’s History Month.

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Bernice Haydu, who served as a Women Airforce Service Pilot during World War II, was a guest speaker for the American Legion Post 51 event in Buchanan, Ind. (photo: Glenn Slaughter/DoD).

Throughout history, women have made significant contributions in helping our nation grow, including supporting our military on the front lines as well as on the homefront. They consistently fought for equal rights to serve in uniform. One of the most memorable moments came when women were given the opportunity to take to the skies — as legitimate military servicemembers.

Long before women were allowed to fly as part of the nation’s military forces, they had demonstrated the skills to control aircraft. Bessie Coleman, Blanche Scott, and Amelia Earhart were among the female pilots grabbing headlines in the early 1900s.

However, others also were working behind the scenes to open up opportunities for women in the military. Among them was Ruth Law, who, in 1917, fought for women’s rights to fly aircraft during World War I. When her attempts to change regulations were unsuccessful, she published an article in Air Travel magazine entitled “Let Women Fly!”

Over the next few weeks we will share Part 2 and Part 3 of a series to celebrate women pilots.

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