Dorothy Fulton Inducted!!! – New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame
Dorothy Fulton, one of the original WAFS – Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, World War II, later to be known as WASP – was inducted into the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame, November 3, 2022.
Long overdue! And what a joyous occasion for her family! Dorothy’s younger sister, Honey Parker, worked diligently to achieve this honor for her accomplished aviator sister. Honey, her daughter Jeanne and grandson Vincent Longhitano were on hand at the ceremonies. Ralph Villecca administrator of the NJAHF introduced Honey who, in turn, introduced her sister for induction.
No pilot expects the propeller to drop off her airplane in mid-flight. But that is how, on July 10, 1938, nineteen-year-old Dorothy Fulton came to be hanging, without power, 2,000 feet in the air over populous Teaneck, New Jersey.
“I heard the motor ‘rev’ – that means speed up,” Dorothy told reporters later than day. “I cut the switch. That’s drilled into us at school. I saw the propeller moving away from the ship. I should have been scared, but I didn’t have time. I lifted the wing so the loose propeller didn’t hit the plane. If I hadn’t, it would have torn the wing apart and I’d have crashed.
THE CHALLENGE: STAY IN THE AIR FOR FIVE MILES
“I dropped the nose of my plane to keep up my flying speed – eighty miles an hour. The challenge was to stay in the air for five miles, the distance to the airport.”
The crankshaft that turned the propeller had broken in midair and sheared off. That propeller actually ended up in a Teaneck, New Jersey, backyard on Bell Avenue. Dorothy managed to hold the airplane aloft long enough to make it back to Bendix/Teterboro Airport – her home base – where she landed it without further mishap. Dorothy proved her expertise in airplanes early!
In the WAFS, the C-47 became Dorothy’s signature aircraft. Stationed first at New Castle Army Air Base, Wilmington, Delaware, she was later transferred to Long Beach. She was assigned multiple times to move C-47s from one part of the U.S. to another. Usually a less-experienced copilot flew with her to gain experience under Dorothy’s capable wing.
In her to-date unpublished manuscript, fellow WAFS Delphine Bohn – squadron commander at Love Field, Dallas – tells this tale on Dorothy:
A BEAUTIFUL THREE-POINT LANDING!!!
On a very hot afternoon, flying a very heavily overloaded Douglas C-47, Dorothy and her WASP copilot landed at Love Field to refuel. Then she made what was very nearly a turnaround takeoff on which she lost an engine too far down the runway to abort.
The tower cleared her to stay in the pattern for an immediate landing, but then she lost the hydraulic pump, which necessitated that she and her co-pilot crank down the landing gear by hand. I should point out that neither of them was a female Atlas [strongman]. It took time.
Finally, with everything down and done that was supposed to be down and done, Dorothy made a beautiful three-point landing. Mind you, this was a situation where any landing that continued upright would have been a good landing!
Delphine adds: “Over and above her normal piloting and her military-group chores, Dorothy must have made between forty and fifty twin-engine flights coast-to-coast. The woman was a patriot and a real worker, along with her many other attributes.”