FINDING DOROTHY SCOTT
Letters of a WASP Pilot
Sarah Byrn Rickman
Genre: Military History / Biography
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Date of Publication: May 30, 2016
Number of Pages: 288
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More than eleven hundred women pilots flew military aircraft for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. These pioneering female aviators were known first as WAFS (Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron) and eventually as WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). Thirty-eight of them died while serving their country.
Dorothy Scott was one of the thirty-eight. She died in a mid-air crash at the age of twenty-three.
Born in 1920, Scott was a member of the first group of women selected to fly as ferry pilots for the Army Air Forces. Her story would have been lost had her twin brother not donated her wartime letters home to the WASP Archives. Dorothy’s extraordinary voice, as heard through her lively letters, tells of her initial decision to serve, and then of her training and service, first as a part of the WAFS and then the WASP. The letters offer a window into the mind of a young, patriotic, funny, and ambitious young woman who was determined to use her piloting skills to help the US war effort. The letters also offer archival records of the day-to-day barracks life for the first women to fly military aircraft. The WASP received some long overdue recognition in 2010 when they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal-the highest honor that Congress can bestow on civilians.
PURCHASE FROM TEXAS TECH PRESS:
Numerous times I’ve driven past Sweetwater, Texas, often stopping along the interstate for a bathroom break or a bite of food. Around 2007 – on one of my trips I saw sign about the WASP Museum. “WASP” what the heck was that I wondered?
It was not until seeing a presentation later at a West Texas Historical Association conference that I learned what WASP stood for – Women Airforce Service Pilots. The museum itself was officially established in 2005.
Trained in Sweetwater, Texas, and other parts of the country these women flew airplanes, trained combat pilots, and towed airborne targets during World War II. This was an unknown history I never knew about regarding World War II.
You immediately meet Dorothy upon opening the book. She was a beautiful woman in 1942. Her photo sets the tone for what you are about to read on her brief time being an airforce pilot.
This nonfiction book is carried through with letters that span a little over 13 months when Dorothy was in the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron later becoming WASP. Letters are an invaluable, powerful primary source for writing history. Through these letters a reader gets to know Dorothy’s personality, how she loved flying, and most importantly that she was doer.
Letters also set the mood of a time in history almost giving you the ability to step back in time yourself to that period in time. With Dorothy’s letters you get a sense of what it was like being apart of this training and service.
Writing history is challenging and further condensing it is harder. Rickman did an admirable job by interweaving Dorothy’s letters with the history of the time when the letters were written. It also provides a basic overview of women in aviation starting in 1903.
According to the author there were 1,102 women pilots apart of this program and 38 of them died serving their country. “Finding Dorothy Scott” is essential reading for anyone interested in WWII history or the heroism of women.
These brave, selfless women deserve recognition because this is an unfamiliar history many people do not know, unless you are driving down I20 in Texas around Sweetwater. “Finding Dorothy Scott” relays this history well, making you want to learn more.
Sadly, Dorothy’s life was tragically cut short by a flying accident. There is no telling what she would have accomplished if she had lived. In one letter during her service she wrote, “What-a-life-“ For a brief period she lived a life she loved – flying. Thank you for your service Dorothy and to all the other WASPs.
Sarah Byrn Rickman is editor of the official WASP of World War II newsletter, the author of five previous books about the WASP, and an amateur pilot. In addition to her books, Sarah is the author of numerous magazine and journal articles about the WASP.
Sarah is a former reporter/columnist for The Detroit News (Michigan) and former editor of the Centerville-Bellbrook Times (Ohio). She earned her B.A. in English from Vanderbilt University and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University McGregor.
Sarah was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and grew up in Denver, Colorado. She now lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, Richard, and their black Lab, Lady.
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