The WAFS/WASP Story Began for Me, at IWASM

 In Sarah Byrn Rickman

“Thank You” IWASM and My Mentor Joan Hrubec

IWASM, the International Women’s Air & Space Museum, is hosting the launch of my newest book—Teresa James’s biography—October 20 at 7 pm Eastern Time, 5 pm Mountain Time. Join me and many of my friends and fellow advocates of the amazing women pilots who flew for our country in World War II.

Mark Wednesday, October 20, on your calendar.

Teresa James WAFS Pilot: Gear Up/Gear Down—a P-47 to Newark

debuts that day!

Click here to register!

IWASM is where I met my first WASP, Nadine Nagle. It was January 1990. Joan Hrubec, then administrator of IWASM, introduced us. The short story here is both Nadine and Joan became very close friends of mine—friendships that lasted until their passing, Joan in 2007 and Nadine in 2018.

They introduced me to the WASP story. Through them, I realized how important it was to TELL that story. For this gift, I’m eternally grateful to them and to IWASM.

Joan schooled me in the history of women in aviation. She was a walking encyclopedia. I studied under her, soaking up the bigger story—not just the WASP story, but the history of women’s aviation that led to Nancy Love’s WAFS and Jackie Cochran’s WASP in 1942 and beyond … to the historic happenings in the ’70s … and to modern day. If I had a woman-in-aviation question, I called Joan.

On Film: Twelve Women in Aviation Stories

Joan and I worked together for IWASM from 1990 to 1994. In that time, she and I produced a series of 12 hour-long Women In Aviation lecture/panel programs, filmed in the studio with a live audience, and then aired on the Community TV Channel of the Miami Valley Cable Council. Our first program, November 1990, featured IWASM President Nancy Hopkins Tier.

Joan Hrubec

Nancy was a Charter (founding) Ninety-Nine in November 1929. In 1942, at age 33, she could have qualified for the WAFS, but she had two young children at home and opted not to apply. Instead, she joined the Civil Air Patrol, the civil defense program launched on Dec. 1, 1941, right before Pearl Harbor.

Nancy Hopkins Tier

Throughout WWII, Nancy served her country as a CAP patrol pilot from her home in Connecticut. She became the first female Civil Air Patrol colonel as well as Wing commander.

In January 1991 we featured IWASM Executive Vice President Bernice “B” Steadman. B just missed serving in WWII, but 15 years later became one of the Mercury 13. They are  the women who, in 1961, went through the same testing as did our Mercury 7 astronauts back in the late 1950s. The testing was to determine a woman’s adaptability to space travel.

Bernice “B” Steadman

A Panel of 20+ Female Airline Pilots

March 1991, more than 20 women airline pilots came to Centerville for the panel discussion  presented by the International Society of Women Airline Pilots. “ISA+21” was born with twenty-one pioneering female airline pilots in 1978 and has grown to represent women in over 90 airlines and 35 countries.

Over four years, with programs in November, January and March, we featured several panels of women flyers—a WASP panel and three corporate pilots were just two of them—well as individual women pilots with fascinating stories including Emily Warner and Patti Wagstaff.

IWASM was located in Centerville, Ohio, in the 1990s when I worked with them. When they moved to Cleveland in 2000, I became an “advisor” one of a core group for whom IWASM is important. We support and “advise” them when they ask. I still serve in that capacity.

IWASM Now Resides in Cleveland

Through IWASM, I was blessed to get to know many of the earlier women pilots who have now passed on, some of them IWASM board members like Charter Ninety-Nines Faye Gillis Wells and Nancy Hopkins Tier as well as Ninety-Nines B Steadman and Barbara Evans. I met my first WAFS and other mentor, Nancy Batson Crews, as well as my first WASP, Nadine, through IWASM. And I met seven of the Mercury 13.

I knew the Dayton-area women pilots and friends who helped make IWASM a fixture in Centerville. And when the museum moved to Cleveland, I got to meet and know the women who made and still make IWASM thrive: Marcy, Connie, executive director Sara Fisher … and many many more!

My thanks to IWASM for instilling in me the history of women in aviation AND now for helping me launch Teresa James WAFS Pilot: Gear Up/ Gear Down– a P-47 to Newark.

Join us on October 20 by zoom: Click here to register.

 

 

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