Endowed Flight Scholarship in WASP’s Name

 In Beverly "Beesy" Beesemyer, Sarah Byrn Rickman

Maricopa College Honors WASP Bev Beesemyer

*** Names Women’s Flight  Scholarship for Beesy ***

The Beverly L. Beesemyer Endowed Scholarship for Women in Aviation is now a reality at Maricopa Community College, Phoenix AZ.

Fritz and Derek Beesemyer have established this scholarship to honor their Aunt Bev and her fellow WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) of World War II, to give those women coming up behind them financial assistance to pursue their dreams. The annual scholarship will be awarded to qualified students who demonstrate a commitment to the completion of a flight training degree program required for a career in commercial aviation.

Here is the link to the page for donations to the scholarship:  https://mcccdf.org/beesemyeraviation/

Bev Beesemyer, WASP Class 44-6: Photo courtesy Texas Woman’s University, WASP Archives

‘Beesy’

By Sarah Byrn Rickman, WASP Author and Historian

June 22, I received a delightful phone call. The gentleman calling identified himself as Fritz Beesemyer.

“You’re one of Beesy’s nephews!”

To say that both he and I were delighted with the connection is an understatement.

I am the editor of the WASP News, published by the WASP Archive at Texas Woman’s University, Denton. Fritz wanted to tell the surviving WASP and their followers about this new scholarship in their sister WASP’s name. Could I please tell them that future women pilots at Maricopa Community College will learn to fly because of Bev Beesemyer, WASP Class 44-8.

Beverly Beesemyer was a rare and marvelous human being. May I say, what a gal! She was one of only 1,102 women to serve as WASP pilots during World War II. If you haven’t heard of the WASP before, you are in for a treat.

World War II’s Best Kept Secret

These gals still are WWII’s best kept secret, but all of Bev’s WASP Friends, and all the WASP Kids (fondly known as KOWS or Kids of WASP) and other relatives, are here to tell you that their WWII service was extraordinary. Women ages 18½ to 35 with varying degrees of flight experience volunteered to serve this country when she most needed them.

When “The War” began, the U.S. didn’t have enough pilots — male pilots — to fight this conflict thrust on us. So the women came to the rescue, volunteered to “learn to fly the Army way,” and serve their country flying anything the men and their big brass would let them fly.

The gals wanted to advance — transition up — and they DID. They started in small trainers, but many managed to move up into some “big stuff.” And because the women wanted to fly, a lot of them opted to fly “dishwashing” jobs the guys didn’t want — like flying aircraft assigned to tow gunnery targets.

You Get Shot At, So To Speak

If the teenagers down on the beach in North Carolina didn’t aim quite right at the canvas target you were towing, your A-24 dive bomber likely would get some bullets in its tail. At least they weren’t hitting the cockpit — were they?

Beverly Beesemyer flew one of the big ones, the B-26 twin-engine bomber — also known as the “widow maker.” Tricky, tough to fly, that airplane. Its wings didn’t seem quite long enough to keep the airplane in the air. So they called her “the flying prostitute” … “no visible means of support.” Beesy loved that big ol’ airplane. In later years she painted pictures of it and put herself in the cockpit. And she was a darn good artist!

Bev celebrated her 100th birthday August 25, 2018. Sadly, we lost her October 29, that year.

Awarded Congressional Gold Medal, March 10, 2010

Beverly and her fellow WASP performed unprecedented service during World War II. Their determination to serve their country and the contributions they made went largely unnoticed until 300 survivors of the WASP community received the Congressional Gold Medal on March 10, 2010, for their service.

                                                                                              Beesy wearing a WASP Fifinella T-shirt.

From an article in the WASP News, Summer 2018:

Bev’s last airplane ride, December 2017, was a joy.

“Beverly Beesemyer is a spitfire!” Christina Pascucci, a KTLA-TV Los Angeles reporter, said of Beesy after flying with her. “She’s so feisty, lucid and strong. She sets a new bar for what women should aspire to be. She’s a trailblazer.”

“It’s Your Airplane!”

That day, Christina took Beesy up for a spin in a Cessna 172 — just the two of them. Christina had a small camera mounted above the instrument panel so she could film Beesy in flight. “Your airplane,” Christina said — the standard verbal method of communication used between a pilot and her copilot (or a student) when transferring the controls during flight. “The look on her face — the joy when she took control of the yoke from me — it was a joy for me to see.

“She kept looking up at the clouds — in awe. She was back in her happy place, oohing and aahing.” —

RIP Beesy, from all of us! Blue skies and tail winds!

*****

Thanks for reading my blog. Hope you enjoyed  reading about Beesy. To find copies of my books about the WASP, please visit:

 https://www.amazon.com/s?k=sarah+byrn+rickman&i=stripbooks&crid=1

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment