Author: Julia Lauria-Blum

Julia Lauria-Blum earned a degree in the Visual Arts at SUNY New Paltz. An early interest in women aviation pioneers led her to research the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of WW II. In 2001 she curated the permanent WASP exhibit at the American Airpower Museum (AAM) in Farmingdale, NY, and later curated 'Women Who Brought the War Home, Women War Correspondents, WWII’ at the AAM. Julia is the former curatorial assistant at the Cradle of Aviation Museum and is currently an editorial contributor for Metropolitan Airport News.

Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman was born on January 26, 1892 in Atlanta, Texas. As one of 13 children born to sharecroppers, George and Susan Coleman, who were of Native American and African-American descent, Bessie worked as a child in the cotton fields, vowing to one day ‘’amount to something’’. Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman (Cradle of Aviation Museum) At the age of six, Coleman began attending school in Waxahachie, Texas in a one-room, segregated school house where she completed all eight grades. At age 12, Bessie was accepted into the Missionary Baptist Church School on a scholarship. Yearning to further her education she…

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History was made in 1943 when three pilots from Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, in Bethpage, NY, became the first women in the United States to test Navy fighter aircraft. One of these pioneering aviatrices was Barbara Kibbee Jayne. Hailing from Troy, NY, Barbara grew up with a desire to fly. As a child, Barbara and her brother would often jump off their garage roof to experience “flight”. But it wasn’t until she was 21 that her parents gave the official green light to pursue her passion. After earning a pilot license at the Ryan School of Aeronautics in San Diego,…

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Marjorie Gray in WASP Uniform c.1944 “The proudest moment of my life was not when I graduated from college, soloed my first airplane, obtained my commercial rating, received the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, or the Lady Hay Trophy – none of these times. It was when I received my silver wings as a graduate of the first class of women to receive military cadet flight training. I was one of 23 of my 28 classmates to complete the training” – Lt. Col. Marjorie M. Gray, USAF (Ret), in her address the Ninety-Nines, International Organization of Women Pilots, 1977 Marjorie Gray…

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