The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on November 11, 1999 · Page 52
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 52

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, November 11, 1999
Page 52
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41 THE PALM DEACH POST THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1900 F Jamesy' joins U.S. Air Force as a reserve flier in 1950 FLY GIRL Y From IK dismissed. They got the Anny'8 thanks, but no benefits. Although tlu-y'd worn Army uniforms, flown Army planes and taken orders from Army of-fu cr. they were told they had no right to call themselves veterans. It took more than 'Mi years to set that right. An aviation archive at home The old sea captain's house in lukv Worth that Jamcsy's parents bought in the 1950s is rock solid but a bit narrow, a bit too much like a lighthouse or the cockpit of an old fighter plane that never leaves the ground. "I feel hemmed in when I'm sitting here," she says. Hie boxes don't help. Htey're filled with photos, books and new s clippings about fliers, particularly women. Particularly WASI'S. Jamesy has a regular aviation archive sprawled across the front jHrch and winding its way out to the living room and into her bedroom. "Just dig in and see what's interesting," she offers, but none of it is as interesting as the story Jamesy tells of a florist's daughter from Pittsburgh who became a most unlikely pilot when she was still a teenager. It wasn't the spirit of adventure that prof iled her. It was her first glimpse of a pilot named Pill who touched down one day in 193 1 in a gleaming silver biplane in the grassy airfield where Jamesy sent Sunday mornings with her brother and his pilot pals. "Out steped this handsome pilot Oh. God to die for!" she says. "I was nuts about the guy. but he barely batted an eye at me." Jamesy was terrified of flying. Year before, she saw a plane go down in flames and she saw the bodies pulled from the smoldering wreck. Then her brother crashed and nearly died. "I thought he was crazy to fly again after that." she says. But she was crazy enough about Bill to accept his invitation to a fly-in picnic. Her knees knocked every moment in the air. They kept knocking for weeks, through flight alter flight, until Bill flew off without her to take a temporary job in Chicago. Jamesy thought she was safely aground, until Harry Fogle started needling her. "I Ie said, 'Why don't you learn how to fly and surprise Bill when he comes back?' I thought about that and decided I'd give it a try," she says. Jamesy the 'Girl Stunt Pilot' Once she was at the controls of Harry's brand-new 0X5 Trave-lair, Jamesy 's knees stopped knocking. She not only learned to soar, she learned to spin, loop and slip her way back to the ground. Harry and some of the other boys were stunt pilots, making good money at weekend air shows, and Teresa soon joined them. She dazzled the audience in her debut by spinning 12M; times as she dropped swiftly toward earth. She went home with $50 in appearance money and a big grin. "When I showed my mother how much money I made, she said, 'Stay with it!' " Jamesy says. "She really encouraged me." Teresa James, "Girl Stunt Pilot," and Harry Fogle, "The Flying Iceman," became a regular double feature at air shows throughout the region. She perfected her routine until the spins reached 26V spectacular no matter what the pilot's gender as the plane plunged from 11,000 feet to 1,000. "I became well-known through the whole East Coast as The Crazy One in the blue airplane and the white helmet," she says. Jamesy forgot about Bill and went on to get her commercial license, giving thrill rides to passengers and later flying a mail route. She also became a flight instructor. The end of the Depression, and the beginning of the war, brought a boom of student pilots in the early 1940s. Many were aspiring Air Corps cadets. "I was flying with them from sunup to sundown," Jamesy says. She taught hundreds of men, and fell in love with one of them. Jamesy married George "Dink" Martin in June 1942. By then, he was in the Air Corps. Jamesy, never one to sit idly at home, got her chance to help the war effort three months after the wedding. The Army sent a telegram to every woman in the country who In this 1940s Image, Teresa James starts the propeller of a J3 Cub 'I was flying with (students) from sunup to sundown,' she says. AIR SHOW WILKINSBURG AIRPORT Cr-lum Hlt. t Wm I'mn Mighwr Two Parachute Jumps By "Cloud Duster" Langer WorlJ Famous Parachute Jumper AIRPLANE STUNTING EXHIBITION By THERESA JAMES, CV n f i - t( Air prof tk HARRY FOGLE, KIT LITTLE GEORGIE HELLER Flying Wco F. EXTRA SPECIAL (h.l.lrrn Umlrr 12 Can Fly For 50c Until Sunday Afternoon October 27, 1935 IN CASK UK IUI1 WKATMKIt SHOW W ILL. TIIK I (II.I.DWINc; Sl.'NUAY held a commercial pilot's license a grand total of 80 inviting them to join the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Service, the WASI'S' precursor. Jamesy was one of 25 women who jumped at the chance. She took a train to Wilmington, Del., for flight testing. She doesn't remember the fare, but she does remember that the Army wouldn't pay. That base was a mudhole," she recalls. "One runway. No facilities at all for women. They moved some men out of the bachelor officers' quarters to make room for us. It had plenty of urinals, but only one stall." Passed with flying colors Jamesy easily passed tests administered by men with far less air time. She earned a spot at $250 a month, plus $6.50 a day for expenses. A month later, she took off on the group's first longdistance solo mission. She flew a IT-19, a single-seater used to train combat pilots, from Maryland to California. "I'd never been past Chicago," she says. She was given a map show CustomTable Save40-50 Off Department Store Prices Holiday Special Guaranteed quality and service from America's oldest and largest table pad company. Free measuring service within the metro area. Guaranteed customer satisfaction. You pay absolutely nothing until ou receive your table pads and you are completely satisfied. Unconditional return privilege. 30-year limited warranty. 655-2744 -Ext. 192 8 IN BOCA 391-4202 -Ext. 192 or 1-800328-7237-Ext. 192 (f)St. Catherines 561-836387 Activities Center 561-795-87; 32nd Antique and Collectible Show & WEEKEND ADMISSION 140 500 Discount with Ad NOVEMBER 12, Fri. & Sat. 10 AM-5 PM Sunday Noon - 5 PM Corner Flagler and Southern Blvd. West Palm Beach 1-95 to Southern east to Flagler Drive Lunch Available Repair Services "The Show Everyone Enjoys" VV A. M Aa' " .w - ty m j . HI Aviatrix Teresa James (above) was known along the East Coast in the 1930s as the 'Girl Stunt Pilot. She perfected her routine until her airplane spins reached 26Vi spectacular no matter what the pilot's gender as the plane plunged from 11,000 feet to 1,000. The poster at left notes: 'Theresa James stole the show at the Air Progress Week Show . . . last Saturday and Sunday.' 2:30 P. M. ing the location of Army airfields along the way. She landed at a few; other times, she touched down wherever she could, sometimes straining car gasoline through cheese cloth when she couldn't find aviation fuel and praying that it wouldn't clog the carburetor. The flight took five days. Some that followed were even longer. "We never knew where we'd end up spending the night," she says. "You'd be so tired, but then you'd get thrown out of a restaurant for wearing slacks. We slept in flea-bag hotels." Setting down safely anywhere was sometimes miraculous "We'd fly planes that came right off the assembly line without being flight tested," Jamesy says. "But the worst were the ones that were already war-weary." Her most harrowing flight was from South Carolina to Maryland in a battered A-25 attack bomber. "I babied that thing," she Pads TABLE PAP CO. SENTRY, 1999 Sale Your Purchases are Guaranteed by the Exhibitor 13, & 14, 1999 T J t r f . Pftolo uunny lfvt )ane for a flight student she was training. says. "Oh oh did I have trouble with that airplane. I couldn't get the gear up. The bomb-bay doors wouldn't close. Then the last 50 miles, fumes were filling the cockpit. I had to fly with the hatch open." Jamesy immediately reported that this plane was in no shape for combat. The officer in charge wasn't surprised. "He said it was a class 26 air- E E E oncE in h LIFETIIT1E .In elegant, intimate theatrical concert I I I I I I I C UnDHEDEH Ikenwnwatjimisi iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirr"s i million it IffiilflS SILLS !he orwnat star nl IKE SCARLEl PIUPtRIEL 3 3 3 3 3 3 B 0 m u B B ciiRLiiimmsnni Tne anginal staf gt JESUS CHHIS1 SUPf RSIAR b Ma Special tawetn fcmr Awar J and Grsmmv Hamtnated taitsei i in ii ik inn iii ii ii iii a a .'....',T iLy,,. W-AtWKP? J1gljp3t . . . . . 1...." ifctfifciTa ffOTTraite lift, f. plane," hhe say. "I didn't know what that meant, lie nahl Its only us wan to be drakwd Into a field and used (or target practice. 1 couldn't believe they'd do that to me. That really just about did me in." Bad news from Normandy Dctiplte Huch backhanded treatment, the women flier did their job ho well that the Army wanted more of them. The commercial license requirement was dropied and women with much less experience were recruited until there were more than l.(KK). As the numbers rose, tw did military oIitic8 and male resentment. Sabotage was suspected in several fatal crashes sugar was found in the fuel tanks but no one can say for sure because the investigations were quickly dropped. Jamesy' archive traces a nasty struggle for control of the WASI'S that derailed any chance of making them members of the Army Air Corps. (She calls the official, sanitized history of the group "a bunch of who snot Nellie.") Dink, meanwhile, had become a flight instructor for B-17 bomber crews, a job that ensured he'd remain stateside and safe from enemy fire until he volunteered to join the Normandy invasion. He was shot down early in the campaign. "1 got the telegram June 22, 1914," Jamesy says. "It said he was missing. I was sure that somehow he survived." She saw a grainy newspaper photo of American airmen captured by the Germans. She was certain Dink was one of them. "People asked me many times over the years why I didn't get married again," she says. "1 told them: 'Dink's coming home.' " (It was 1984 before she learned what really happened, when she went to France for a reunion. She found people who remembered the crash, and the dying pilot In Joinville le Pont, George "Dink" Martin was a hero. "A piece of his landing gear was still in the mayor's office," she says through tears. "The people gave a big party for me, in his honor. It was so sad.") Jamesy was still scrambling to find out everything she could about Dink's last flight when the WASPS were disbanded. She took the train back to Pittsburgh. "I went back to my fami- North Palm Beach Recreation's UnoE IJesItaoKniE Saturday, November 13 9:00 to 4:00 NPB Community Center, 1200 Prosperity Farms Road for more IW A . .. V . VA A Ml The Southern Handcraft Society of the Palm Beaches presents 1703 For Non-Estrogen Osteoporosis Research are 5 or You 7 became well-known through the whole East Coast as Vie Crazy One in the blue airplane and the white helmet' THERESA JAMES Pilot ly's florist shop and made the wedding bouquets again," she says. Jamesy's return was not quite that docile: 'Hie archive yields a letter rejecting her application to join the Chinese Air Force In the war against Jaiian. She finally got back up in the air after the war as a private instructor. A few years later, her country decided she was too valuable to ignore. Joins Air Force as major Soon after the Air Force became an Independent service, Jamesy was invited to join. She chose the reserves rather than active duty, recalling the discomfort of living on base. She was awarded the permanent rank of major, serving from 1950 until her retirement in 1976. A year later, President Carter signed a bill granting the WASI'S full recognition and veterans benefits. Jamesy had lent calls and letters to the cause, but she's still angry about the years that went by before that "Nothing was retroactive," she says. Those 3 girls who were killed got nothing. It's a disgrace to the United States that we had to pay to get their bodies home." Nine of the original 25 women war pilots are still living. They had a reunion last June in Birmingham, Ala. They did everything you'd exject, "a lot of yakking, a lot of crazy talk about this and that." And they flew airplanes. "Nancy Batson just finished restoring a Sujkt Cub, like the ones we used to ferry," Jamesy says. "She said, 'Jamesy, let's fly out to see my daughter in California.' I said no thanks!" Jamesy still flies locally every few weeks, at an age she'd rather ignore than yak about. "I don't tell anyone how old I am," she says. "If I do, they won't want to fly with me anymore." information 10th Annual Homespun Holidays "Let It Snow!" at the ARMORY ART CENTER Lake Avenue West Palm Beach Fri' Saf Sun Nov 12 Nov 13 Nov 14 ' 9am-8pm 9am-5pm 10am-3pm info, call 561-659-1218 No Baby Strollers, Please! Women: more years post menopause, age 50 to 85, you may be eligible for a research program for osteoporosis. must not have taken estrogen in the past 3 months or recent Fosamax. Find out if you have bone loss! If you qualify you will receive osteoporosis testing, x-rays, study related visits, study medication, calcium supplements, and travel related expenses. f

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