Site search

Site menu:

Find Out More

Subscribe to Email Updates

Archives

Categories

Contact Us

Tag: pilots

A WASP’s Story

Today’s post comes from Ashley Mattingly, an archivist at the National Archives in St. Louis.

The year was 1943, and Elizabeth “Betty” Maxine Chambers was a young mother and a widow. Betty’s husband, Army pilot Lt. Robert William Chambers, had died in 1942 when his P-38F Lightening aircraft crashed at Mills Field in San Mateo, California. Undaunted, Betty applied to be among the first female pilots in the newly formed Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program.

Elizabeth Chambers's WASP portrait from her official personnel folders (OPF).

Elizabeth ​”Betty” Maxine Chambers, WASP Class of 44-W-3. Photograph from her official personnel folders (OPF), held at the National Archives in St. Louis.

A native of Hollywood, California, Betty worked for the Walt Disney Company inking cartoon celluloid cells and for Universal Studios inking cells for “picture process work.” After the death of her husband, Betty and her baby moved in with her parents; she also acquired a more stable job as a telephone operator at Southern California Telephone Company.

Betty wanted more. Like more than 1,000 other women, she took to the skies to find it.

Betty and her comrades applied to an innovative civilian program designed to employ women to ferry wartime aircraft, serve as flight instructors, tow targets for live antiaircraft practice, transport cargo, and fly experimental aircraft. These female pilots relieved men from domestic duties so they could fight overseas in the war.

The WASP program … [ Read all ]

Magellans of the Sky

In 1924, a group of eight Army airmen set out to be the first humans to ever circle the globe by air. On their journey over Arctic mountain passes and vast Indian deserts, they would lose half their planes and set numerous records to become what were dubbed the “Magellans of the Sky.”

Listen as Prologue staff writer Rob Crotty describes their journey in the National Archives’ latest 2-3 minute produced video short from “Inside the Vaults.”

The film series is free to view and distribute. Watch our  “Inside the Vaults” series on our YouTube channel.

Prologue magazine is the award-winning quarterly publication of the National Archives.

[ Read all ]