FINDING DOROTHY SCOTT
Letters of a WASP Pilot
By Sarah Byrn Rickman
Genre: Military History / Biography
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Date of Publication: May 30, 2016
Number of Pages: 288
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More than eleven hundred women pilots flew military aircraft for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. These pioneering female aviators were known first as WAFS (Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron) and eventually as WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). Thirty-eight of them died while serving their country.
Dorothy Scott was one of the thirty-eight. She died in a mid-air crash at the age of twenty-three.
Born in 1920, Scott was a member of the first group of women selected to fly as ferry pilots for the Army Air Forces. Her story would have been lost had her twin brother not donated her wartime letters home to the WASP Archives. Dorothy’s extraordinary voice, as heard through her lively letters, tells of her initial decision to serve, and then of her training and service, first as a part of the WAFS and then the WASP. The letters offer a window into the mind of a young, patriotic, funny, and ambitious young woman who was determined to use her piloting skills to help the US war effort. The letters also offer archival records of the day-to- day barracks life for the first women to fly military aircraft.
The WASP received some long overdue recognition in 2010 when they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal-the highest honor that Congress can bestow on civilians.
PURCHASE FROM TEXAS TECH PRESS:
The Statue of Liberty Is Green!
Excerpted from Chapter Six, Finding Dorothy Scott
July 30, 1943, Dorothy wrote to the family:
I just got back from the most adventuresome trip I’ve ever had! It was an AT-6 trip to Newark, NJ. This was a trip I’ve long wanted! We left Dallas early the morning of July 26th. I got up at 5 a.m. On the way out, I buzzed Helen’s and my new house and also Penn and Paul out in the boat.
It went quite routine until we left Meridian, Miss., headed for Atlanta, GA. Over Birmingham we ran into a local thunderstorm so I radio’d in for a weather report. I deciphered the code to mean CAVU—or “perfect” weather, but actually it was so rough I couldn’t hold the paper still. So “Phooey” tap I and tell ’em I’m comin’ in.
We land ok and I walk into the weather hangar. “Ah yes,” they said, “A special just came in—real storms.”
Well, we stayed over nite (hmm– good steak) and cleared the next AM again. This time the report was low scattered clouds– very minor. A half-hour out, the “low scattered” had boxed in solid behind and below us. Again I tried the radio but no answer, so we turn around.
Whew! Going back to Birmingham, the area had fogged up nearly solid so I went on instruments. Boy! That was work. The other two kids hung on my wingtips and I followed that beam like a homesick angel. Just as we got over it I saw the field and headed in. Talk about being grateful at being on solid ground again! Those kids were a-thankin’ me too—and I was a-thankin’.
We got off again that afternoon and made it to Richmond, Va. All the rest of the trip we had visibility only from 3 to 8 miles—which is seeing ahead not at all and down just some.
The next day was a gay one. We flew to New Castle where I got to see some of the old gang—when I’d left them in Jan. I hadn’t even known what an AT-6 was for sure.
From New Castle I led them right over Philadelphia, then Wash. DC where I looked down on FDR and Wash. Monument, etc. Then we headed into New York and I got enough “lost” to fly over Manhattan’s skyline and the Statue of Liberty. (It’s green!) Then we delivered our planes and had 3 hrs ’til plane time. That we spent on a bus trip and subway ride.
Dorothy was flight leader. She and two new WAFS had taken three AT-6s to Newark to be put aboard a Liberty ship 3 bound across the North Atlantic. Dorothy had hoped to remain overnight in New Castle the night of July 27, to see her fellow WAFS still stationed there, but the weather delays earlier in Birmingham prevented it. Ferry pilots were authorized to fly a half an hour after sunrise to a half an hour before sunset, so the three, still flying in iffy weather and with darkness approaching, landed and spent the night in Richmond, Virginia, instead.
There, they relied on the local Red Cross for food and transportation after securing their airplanes. Red Cross volunteers had organized in many towns and cities where ferry pilots landed regularly. Cokes, coffee, donuts, sandwiches, and carrot sticks were in good supply because restaurants frequently were not available. The volunteers then drove the pilots to their hotels and picked them up in the morning to get them back to the airport. Dorothy thanked them profusely.
As for New York City, Dorothy, good navigator that she was, was not lost as she flew toward it. Though she had never been there before, by looking at the charts she could judge just how far off the route she needed to stray in order for them all to get a good look at Miss Liberty. In spite of the haze that was omnipresent over the big city and its environs, the statue and the skyscrapers reached for the clouds above them in all their vertical glory.
Sarah Byrn Rickman is editor of the official WASP of World War II newsletter, the author of five previous books about the WASP, and an amateur pilot. In addition to her books, Sarah is the author of numerous magazine and journal articles about the WASP.
Sarah is a former reporter/columnist for The Detroit News (Michigan) and former editor of the Centerville-Bellbrook Times (Ohio). She earned her B.A. in English from Vanderbilt University and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University McGregor.
Sarah was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and grew up in Denver, Colorado. She now lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, Richard, and their black Lab, Lady.
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