The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Community News Network

November 7, 2013

Female pilots of WWII set eyes on Rose Bowl float

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

But getting a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade is a difficult thing. Even after a formal application is accepted, the entrance fee is $5,000, and the total cost of float construction can approach a quarter of a million dollars.

The group began fundraising in earnest last February, accepting both $10 checks and one large $60,000 pledge from a former WASP in Texas.

Then, in the fall, Dot Lewis' health began failing. Chig put fundraising efforts on hold. To give their float designer enough time to complete the project by the Jan. 1 parade date, Chig figured, they would need to have the money pledged by Veterans Day.

"It's really a very public way to do a final honor for these women, to say thanks for their service," says Kate Landdeck, vice president of Wingtip-to-Wingtip and a history professor at Texas Women's University.

The WASPs were the creation of racing pilot Jacqueline Cochran and aviator Nancy Harkness Love, who envisioned a domestic team of female military pilots freeing up male pilots for combat abroad. WASPs flew recently repaired planes to make sure equipment was functioning properly. They hauled cargo and air-chauffeured top brass to meetings. They introduced green servicemen to the air, with the winking motto, "If we can teach them to walk, we can teach them to fly." Thirty-eight women died in this service to their country.

WASPs were classified as civilian pilots, with a promise that they would later be classified as military. Instead, in December 1944, as the war's end approached, the program was disbanded. The families of the 38 women who died were not allowed to display gold stars in their windows, because their daughters were not recognized as veterans.

The WASPs received a letter informing them that their service was over. Two days after that letter came, "several of us received letters from aircraft companies inviting us to come and be stewardesses," remembers Rohrer. "I was so angry, I tore that letter up."

The WASPs would finally be granted full military status in 1977, and they were awarded Congressional Gold Medals in 2010.

Chig Lewis says that a place in the Rose Bowl parade would have pleased his mother, although, ever the cool pilot, she wouldn't show it too much. "She was a remarkable woman," he says. "She was the bravest person I know."

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Why a see-through mouse is a big deal for scientists

    A group of Caltech researchers announced in Cell Thursday their success in making an entire organism transparent. Unfortunately, this isn't any kind of "Invisible Man" scenario: The organism in question is a mouse, and the mouse in question is quite dead.

    July 31, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014