Sarah and Alex Visit Covered Treasures
Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, Colorado, was the place to be last Thursday night, June 20. Hostess(es) with the mostest, Tommie and Paula, greeted a steady line of book shoppers and browsers.
Accompanied by my grandson, Alex, I was there to sell and sign my newly released biography, Nancy Love: WASP Pilot. This book is written for today’s Young Adult reading audience — specifically today’s young women ages 10 to 14. And what a role model Nancy is!
A Pilot’s License at 16
Nancy Love earned her pilot’s license at 16. Twelve years and 1100 flight hours later, she founded and led the 28-member Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron — an integral part of the Ferrying Division, Air Transport Command in World War II. She went on to lead all 303 WASP ferry pilots for the ATC. The name Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASP replaced the WAFS name in mid 1943.
Alex’s and my customers also bought copies of my first YA-focused book, BJ Erickson: WASP Pilot. Nancy Love chose BJ to command the WASP squadron based in Long Beach, California. In 1944, ferrying P-51D Mustangs to the docks in Newark, New Jersey — for shipment to England— became THE priority task for the women pilots of BJ’s squadron. The P-51D was America’s premier single-engine fighter aircraft in WWII. It had the range to escort and protect B-17s and B-24s on bombing runs into the heart of Germany and back to England, their home base.
Alex and I also sold copies of my still very popular first book, The Originals (first published 2001, second edition 2017) — the story of Nancy Love and her original WAFS ferry pilots.
Good to See Old Friends!
A bunch of old friends showed up. Charlie Rush for one. Charlie and I first met at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference (PPWC) in 1996. In 1999, he advocated for the my WASP manuscript, Flight from Fear. It won first place in historical fiction in PPWC’s 1999 Paul Gillette writing competition. The following year, 2000, the WASP manuscript, Flight to Destiny, made me a PPWC back-to-back winner in historical fiction.
Flight from Fear (my first published novel) was a finalist in the original softcover category of Women Writing the West’s 2003 WILLA Awards, thus the silver sticker in the corner. Flight to Destiny was published in 2014. It did so well, I reprinted in 2017.
Nancy Durr, the first historian I worked with at Texas Woman’s University/ the WASP Archives — in 2000 — now lives in the Colorado Springs area. WAS I SURPRISED and delighted to see her!!! She got me started on my journey seeking and writing the WASP story!
Doris and Tom Baker of Colorado-based Filter Press — my publishers for the Love and Erickson books — were there as were three friends/fellow writers/fellow members of the Pikes Peak branch of the National League of American Pen Women, Nancy Jurka, Linda Bridges and Virginia Campbell accompanied by her husband Verne.
WASP’s Daughter Joins Us
Barbara Dixon, daughter of WASP Ann Holaday (now deceased but who used to summer next door to Barb in the Springs area) came. She and I gladly talked “WASP” to anyone who cared to listen and ask questions. A delightful young man named Gavin, who is a budding writer at age 11, was interested enough to listen and ask questions.
A host of new friends bought my books for the first time.
Nancy Love is well known in aviation circles, but not widely so outside of that. And that is unfortunate considering the outstanding attributes and far-sighted vision she exhibited throughout her time with the WAFS/WASP. Her promise was obvious even in her earlier years. She was active in aviation from the time she obtained her pilot’s license at 16 until she took command of the WAFS. Her skills and savvy took her places where, and to meet people who, recognized her vision of how to use trained, experienced women pilots in a wartime/military setting.
Nancy’s Legacy Lives On
Sadly, Nancy died of cancer in the mid 1970s. She was 62. At the same time, for the first time since WWII, women pilots began to climb into the cockpits of military aircraft and fly. Those women, and those who have become military pilots since, are very aware of Nancy Love, what she stood for and what, ultimately, she did for them.
WASP Iris Cummings Critchell, who flew pursuit aircraft for BJ at Long Beach, says this about her first meeting with Nancy. (See page 91 of Nancy Love: WASP Pilot.)
“That’s when I gained my appreciation for how gracefully she handled people and situations — quietly and wisely. For just a few moments, I was privileged to see her open up a bit and smile and speak warmly about flying, ferrying, and subsequently, the P-38. [Nancy had just become the first woman to fly the twin-engine P-38 Lightning.] She allowed herself to show her warmth and respect for BJ to those of us present. She showed the sparkle and then returned to her cool business-like bearing which served her so well.”
Again, my thanks to Tommie and Paula at Covered Treasures Bookstore, 105 2ndStreet in Monument, Colorado 80132.
SARAH SAYS: Thanks for reading my blog!!!