Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Contraband Camera: Photos Of World War II WASP

An article from NPR, from way back in March 2010:

A Contraband Camera: Photos Of World War II WASP
by Heidi Glenn

It's hard not to want to ask a million questions as you look through Lillian Yonally's World War II-era color photos of American female pilots in uniform. Female pilots in World War II? Flying bombers? In color? What was their story?

For those who weren't alive then, it can sometimes seem as if World War II took place in black and white — no doubt the result of absorbing countless historical photographs. In contrast, Yonally's color shots, gauzy and toned with primary blues, greens and reds, look as if they were plucked from a daydream.

Courtesy of Lillian Yonally
Lillian Yonally at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, in 1943.
Yonally, now 87, was one of about 1,100 young women in the Women Airforce Service Pilots, a short-lived military program known as WASP that trained civilian volunteers to fly planes stateside so men could report overseas for combat duty. The women, who were required to have previous flight experience, trained at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, and then were stationed at 120 Army air bases within the U.S.

NPR Photo Editor Coburn Dukehart and I interviewed Yonally to find out what it was like to be part of the first group of female military pilots. You can hear her talk about her experiences and view her rare color photographs in the slideshow below.

Yonally shot the photos from 1943-1944 at Avenger Field, when she was 21 and training as a WASP, and then at Camp Irwin in California, where she was stationed. At Camp Irwin, she would tow targets behind her plane so gunners on the ground could practice shooting — with live ammunition. The groundbreaking WASP program was halted after just two years in large part because male civilian pilots lobbied for their jobs, but not before proving that women could fly. (They're being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Yonally will be there.)

Yonally's father gave her a camera, an Argus C3, which she said was considered contraband on base. It didn't stop her from shooting, though, and she took photos of her friends, the planes she flew and her instructors. She would mail the film back to Boston, and her dad would develop it into color slides. This way, she thought, her family could see what she was up to, and she would have a record of her experience waiting for her when she got home.

Enlarge Courtesy of Lillian Yonally
Lillian Yonally on the wing of a Douglas Dauntless during her service as a WASP.

Courtesy of Lillian Yonally
Lillian Yonally on the wing of a Douglas Dauntless during her service as a WASP.
And then there are the stories behind the photos themselves. One of a plane — a BT-13 — with a pink and purple sky bursting in the background was meant to show her family that she was up at dawn. Yonally, it turns out, was never known to get up early. Another is of a wishing well at Avenger Field, where the young pilots celebrated after passing tests. Another image shows Yonally in a jumpsuit and holding a US Air Corps mailbag —taken to show her family her new training attire.

We also wanted to know whether Yonally and her fellow pilots realized just how truly special the WASP program was. She got most excited while talking about the act of flying and about women in flight. She is clearly passionate about both, but Yonally is, like the other WASP featured in Susan Stamberg's story and those in an accompanying interactive, unassuming about her duty.

Courtesy of Lillian Yonally
A BT-13 at sunrise at Avenger Field. Yonally took this photo to show her parents that she was getting up early for training.
"I don't think I took time to think about it," Yonally told us. "I just thought it was a wonderful opportunity, and we were very gung-ho for it."

Nevertheless, she says, the photos capture the start of showing "that women could do anything."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

IWASM: Sept 3, 2010: Swing Back in Time at IWASM Canteen

Friday, September 3, 2010

6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Swing Back in Time at the IWASM Canteen

Tickets: $40 for members, $45 for non-members

We celebrate the 1940s with hors d'oeuvres, beverages, swing music and dancing, raffles, and a cash beer & wine bar. Vintage civilian or military attire is encouraged but not required. Tickets are available by clicking here or contacting the museum office at (216) 623-1111.

Sept 2, 2010. IWASM. Wendi B Carpenter

Thursday, September 2, 2010

7:00 pm

Lecture - Rear Admiral Wendi B. Carpenter

Join us for this free special event during Cleveland Navy Week as we welcome Rear Admiral Wendi B. Carpenter, naval aviator and Commander, navy Warfare Development Command, Norfolk PLUS the Navy rock band, the Four Star Edition! Reservations are REQUIRED for parking lot access. Contact the International Women's Air and Space museum at (216) 623-1111 or

Friday, August 13, 2010

Women pilot films on offer at September's Antique Airfield Flyin

Iowa's Centenary of Flight celebrations being held: September 1 - 6, 2010

Runway Cinema is back for the 2010 Fly-In with a lineup of early aviators and modern day barnstorming flicks. Movies start at dark (approximate 8:30 PM) in front of the Museum hangar.

Wednesday: Pancho Barnes (1988)
Thursday: Lafayette Escadrille (1958)
Friday Double Feature: Mission Dawn Patrol
Friday Double Feature: Barnstorming
Saturday: Pearl, Official Pre-Release Screening

Journalist, photographer, crackshot and the first woman to fly an aeroplane ...the amazing Lilian Bland

Belfast Telegraph: Journalist, photographer, crackshot and the first woman to fly an aeroplane ...the amazing Lilian Bland

I share only half the article here. Follow the link to see the complete article, as well as a photo of Lilian Brand in her plane - sitting on the bottom plane, with a joystick type steering took guts to fly a plane back then!
As Northern Ireland prepares to mark the centenary of her pioneering lift-off with a series of events, Eddie McIlwaine recalls a real maverick spirit

A representative of the Ulster Aviation Society will go on a pilgrimage to a quiet little cemetery in Sennen, Cornwall on Tuesday, August 31.

There, he will lay a wreath on the grave of Lilian Bland, a pioneering aviator who 100 years ago on that date became the first woman to get airborne in a powered aeroplane.

“We are also trying to arrange a fly past of the graveyard that day by an aircraft from a pilot training school at Land’s End,,” says Ernie Cromie of the Society. “It will be spectacular and emotional as we honour a brave and remarkable lady who did all her early flying in Co Antrim.”

At the same time Newtownabbey Council plans to re-name a park in her honour at Glengormley not far from her family home at Carnmoney. She carried out her first aviation experiment on Carnmoney Hill where I wandered as a boy (many years after Lilian’s time, I hasten to add).

There are plans too for a sculpture in the park of Miss Bland’s fragile little plane, which she called the Mayfly.

And artist Norman Whitla is to be commissioned to paint Lilian on her beloved Carnmoney Hill, which had happy memories for her — notwithstanding the day she encountered Ferdinand, the bad-tempered bull.

He gave this would-be flyer the fright of her life and she was a woman who didn’t scare easily.

She had to move quickly over a hedge to escape that bellowing hunk of meat. However, that face-to-face on the hill in the spring of 1910 definitely accelerated her plans to become the world’s first female pilot. Better getting into trouble in the air, rather than on the end of a bull’s horns is what she must have thought.

Lilian, who was born in Kent in May 1878, came to live with her widowed artist father — there is at least one of his canvases in the Ulster Museum — in his native Carnmoney in East Antrim in 1900 when her mother died. There is a plaque in her memory at Tobercorran House on Glebe Road West between Carnmoney and Glengormley where she grew up.

And Carnmoney Hill became her favourite place to wander and dream about taking off into the clouds.

She built her first glider in a workshop which is still there at Tobercorran House and tested it out on the hillside in all kinds of weather.

Mayfly, a biplane, got into the air alright — with a little bit of help from the local constabulary and some youngsters.

But by the time she acquired an engine to power the machine Lilian was aware that the natural slopes of the hill were no longer suitable for take-off purposes, and that meeting with the bull finally made up her mind to look elsewhere.

And it was while Lilian was indulging her other talent as a skilled photographer on the Lough Neagh shore near Crumlin, shooting wildlife, that she was informed that the current Lord O'Neill had the perfect level acreage at his Deerpark residence near Randalstown, which could be turned into an ideal landing strip.

It was friendly eel fishermen with whom she went out on expeditions on the water who informed the young fly girl of His Lordship's fascination with her pioneering work, and eventually a historic meeting between aristocrat and this extraordinary young woman with ideas ahead of her time, took place.

Lord O'Neill was delighted to give Lilian permission to use his land at the Deerpark for her flying attempts.

And it was the experiments with Mayfly on the grassy Deerpark that eventually saw the plane take off into the air and reach the dizzy height of upwards of 30 feet.

Randalstown Historical Society is right now designing a plaque which will be erected at the Deerpark to remind passers-by that the lady whose grandfather was the Rev Robert Winstringham Bland, perpetual curate at St George’s Parish Church in Belfast, was the first lady flyer ever.

However, the Mayfly wasn't destined to be a commercial success and eventually Lilian gave up her aviation work and became the first female Ford motor car agent in Ireland instead.

Lilian was far from conventional despite her genteel background. She smoked, wore trousers, was a ju-jitsu expert and a good shot with a rifle and was even known to cuss a little.

In 1911 she married her cousin Charles Loftus Bland and lived for years in Vancouver Island, Canada. They had a teenage daughter who died in an accident, She came back to England and settled in the village of Sennen near Land’s End.

When she died in 1971 at age 92, Lilian was buried in the cemetery at the parish church there.

Aviation historian and writer of bestsellers on all kinds of aircraft, Guy Warner, has the full story of Lilian Bland in a booklet he spent a year researching.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mark your calendar: Thursday, Sept 2. Place: Cleveland

The International Women's Air & Space Museum :

Join us on Thursday, September 2 at 7:00 pm for a free lecture by Rear Admiral Wendi B. Carpenter, a Naval aviator, plus a special performance by the Navy rock band, "Four Star Edition". You must make reservations for this free event for parking lot access. Call the museum office at 216-623-1111.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Girls With Wings reports from OshKosh

Apply for a $1000 Girls With Wings Scholarship

Check it out at: them with their scholarship program.

August 7, 2010: Women Hovering (Helicoptering) Over the World Day


Here is your chance to get together with other Whirly-Girls on August 7, 2010, at Calhoun Air Center for the first annual Women Hovering Over the World (WHOW) day!

Meet some of the best helicopter pilots in the air - Whirly Girls!

Share stories and laughs.

Relax on the Texas Gulf Coast with side trips to Port Aransas and Rockport - all fifteen minutes away by rotor!

Network with other helicopter pilots.

August 7, 2010
The first Saturday in August.
WHOW is an annual event observed internationally.

Calhoun County Airport (PKV)
4876 FM 3084, Port Lavaca, TX 77979

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Press Release: Enflight: Flight Planning To Your Personal Specification

Flight planning is easier and quicker when we can see our options at a glance. If the weather is good or really bad, the go/no go decision is easy; but what defines the majority of situations – when the conditions along the route are “marginal?”

We each have our personal limits. We know the aircraft may have been tested for flight in some condition, but we are uncomfortable under those conditions, or in that aircraft, or over such-an-such terrain. With Enflight, we can set our own personal minima, and the software translates DUATS data into “green,” “yellow,” and “red,” according to our own comfort criteria. Enflight also plans to allow flight instructors to oversee individual students’ criteria.

It takes just seconds to generate a flight plan (including SIDS and STARS if desired); a single click then downloads it to your handheld GPS – and included is the ability to print or download unlimited charts, as a “triptik” or specified chart area. Any number of pdf-format approach plates can also be downloaded to a mobile device, or printed.

A complete and legal FAA briefing takes just minutes to generate and moments to interpret, thanks to the most advanced plain-language weather and NOTAM “translation” algorithm in the industry.

And it’s easy to access Enflight from common mobile platforms (Blackberry, iPhone, Droid, etc.), where its look is consistent with the web presentation.

All these flight planning functions, including fuel pricing, best altitude for fuel, time, and distance; and other features make Enflight a “one-stop” flight planning and briefing center.

The new Enflight TAF Spiral (patent applied for) shows conditions at any airport with a forecast, showing a timeline (in red, yellow, and green) for forecast conditions according to your personal minima. These TAF Spirals automatically display on your sectional, WACs and TACs, alongside your planned route.

Enflight is immediately available and lists at $249.95, enabled for web and mobile platforms. Extreme Oshkosh special deals are in effect at the website for a limited time.

Flight instructors should contact Enflight directly, for additional discounts and special programs.