Cornelia Fort, Finalist in IBPA Benjamin Franklin Book Awards!

Cornelia Fort WAFS Pilot
Cornelia Fort, WAFS Pilot

Cornelia Takes Flight Again!

Friends, I gotta brag – again! Cornelia Fort WAFS Pilot: Her Life for Her Country has been named a finalist in the 36th Benjamin Franklin Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) competition.

The festivities and announcement of winners takes place, April 26, in Denver, Colorado. (Close to home!) I plan to be there.

Cornelia’s story is told in my sixth Y/A-focused book about America’s women pilots who flew in World War II. Published last year, it is eligible for the 2024 competition. The category is TEEN-Nonfiction (13-18 Years). I am so very thankful for the growing interest in biographical works written for today’s young women readers. I’m a big believer in the power of biography.

What carries this story is Cornelia’s relentless commitment. All are obvious given her patriotism, sense of duty, and, frankly, her sheer nerve. Yet she dies in a crash that should never have happened. In all, 38 of these young WASP pilots died serving their country in WWII. None of their flying was done abroad. They were never in – nor intended to be – in combat!

Today’s Aviation Needs Young Women!

In 2017 I set out to write a book specifically FOR Young Adult women. Why? To reach motivated, ambitious, forward-looking young women readers potentially interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Today, these aviation fields are open to well-qualified young women.

My interest in writing biography for young women readers began when two of my now-retired teacher friends convinced me I should try it. “Today’s young women readers are the ones who need these stories you are writing,” they told me. Thank you again Jacque and Nancy!!! Enter the book B.J. Erickson WASP Pilot. In 2018, BJ’s story won the Gold Medal in Story Circle Network’s Sarton Award competition for Young Adult Non-Fiction. In 2019, it also won the Combs-Gates Award  from the National Aviation Hall of Fame for books that tell the personal rather than technical side of aviation. What a way to begin!!!

That one book ultimately grew to six. All are about the women who flew for the Ferrying Division, U.S. Army Air Forces, in World War II. From October 1942 to December 19, 1944, those women pilots flew nine million miles; moved a total of 12,650 aircraft; and flew more than one hundred fifteen thousand pilot hours in the 27 months they served.[i]*

In all, 1,102 women – known as Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) – flew for the United States in WWII. Daily they flew whatever type of aircraft and mission to which they were assigned.

Nancy Love, in Command

136 WASP Ferried Fighters – One Seat, No Copilot!

Of the 303 who served in the Ferrying Division under leader Nancy Love, 136 of the women qualified as “pursuit pilots.” Throughout 1944, those women flew single-cockpit, single-engine fighter aircraft from the factories to the docks on our Atlantic and Pacific shores. From there, U.S. Liberty ships took the planes to the battle zones where male fighter pilots were on the lookout for the arrival of those badly needed combat aircraft.

Twenty-six of Nancy’s women also qualified to fly the powerful twin-engine P-38 fighter, “Lightning”. Five qualified to fly the awesome “Black Widow” – the twin-engine P-61 night fighter. That aircraft – the first equipped with radar ­­– came into the war late.

And now, this year – 2024 – Cornelia Fort’s story has captured attention. It is a FINALIST in the Benjamin Franklin TEEN-Nonfiction 13-18 competition. For that I am MOST honored! Sure hope I win! Looking forward to April 26th!

Thank you all for reading my posts!  Please take a look at my 13 books available on Amazon. 


[i] Source: Women Pilots in the Air Transport Command: Lieutenant Colonel Oliver LaFarge.

*Ferrying Division Historical Officer Captain Walter J. Marx – the man who compiled all this information –  “derived much information through conversations with Nancy Love, Executive for WASP, and the key figure in the whole history of the women pilots within the command.” *Historical Branch, Air Transport Command.




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