Elizabeth L. Remba Gardner, of Rockford, Illinois, Class 43-W-6 WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot) at the controls of a Martin B-26 ‘Marauder’ medium bomber. Harlingen Army Air Field, Texas. 1943 (Aged 22)

Elizabeth “Libby” Gardner 1921 – 2011 – died aged 90

About Me and My Experiences

“My name is Elizabeth L. Gardner, or for short, Libby Gardner. I am a pilot for the Women Aircraft Service Planes. a.k.a. WASP, which is considered a civil service. Before the war, I was a housewife and a mother who stayed home to take care of my family. I was called to duty when the war started to learn how to test planes, instruct pilots, tow targets used for anti-aircraft artillery practice, and assemble planes. I was grateful for the opportunity because it made my childhood dreams of flying and fascinations with planes a reality. I work 7 days out of the week and some of those days happen to be better than others. When I first started learning, I was eager and nervous and also had two days of training under Lieutenant Col. Paul Tibbets who later commanded the B-29 that dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima. The training consisted of three phases; primary, basic, and advanced. On the days that we have check rides, a lot of pressure can be put on us women, and we feel that we must make a name for ourselves in this industry. I had a check ride the other day, and I must say that things did not go so well for me that day. The man testing me was very quiet and sarcastic and did not give me much information or say a lot to let me know how I was doing. I would make mistakes as turning to far out or using too much rudder on the turns; I did my best to relax, but his sarcastic remarks did not make it easy and different items in my performance were still sloppy including my stalls. The only good thing that came from that test was my landing; it was possible that he would give me credit for that, but instead he stepped out of the airplane without saying a word about whether or not I passed. I held back my tears. The opportunity is wonderful, and I love doing this every day. It was an opportunity I never expected which gave me an amazing life experience. It has it’s hardships like everything else in life, but the opportunity to serve my country by doing flying aircraft is unimaginable and is a wonderful privilege.” (c.1943)

Elizabeth “Libby” Gardner 1921 – 2011 – died aged 90

Of the more than 1,100 women who volunteered and flew every fighter, bomber, transport and trainer aircraft in the inventory 72 years ago, only about 300 were still alive when the survivors of the first female military pilots received the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in the US Capitol of Washington on March the 11th 2010.

(Colorized by Cândido Augusto)

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