WASP Women Airforce Service Pilots
There’s no mystery to the impact on a child when they receive support and encouragement. Bee was fortunate to grow up under the wings of strong role models. Men who supported and encourage their women. And women who set great examples for their children.
Bee had a grandmother who dabbled in the stock market, a man’s job. Her grandmother on her mother’s side started a pleating and embroidery business. Bee’s mother established branches of the family’s hemstitching and dressmakers’ supplies business…later to own a lingerie shop. When Mom’s business closed, due to the depression, she opened the Montclair Employment business. This is a family of entrepreneurs making life happen, despite all obstacles.
Thanks to this industrious family, growing independent women, Bee’s dreams were limitless. Success was written on the horizon. But opportunity is not always given. Sometimes we have to make it through adversity.
Standing at the auxiliary field a distance from Avenger Field in her fleece lined helmet and pants.
Growing up in Montclair New Jersey, Bee graduated from high school 1938. Unfortunately the reality hit strong when she realized there was not enough money to send both she and her brother to college. Despite the strength and support within her family the rest of the world hadn’t caught on yet, and the jobs available to women were secretarial and she didn’t need college. Bee’s brother would be the child to attend college, while Bee went to work as … guess what? A secretary.
The jobs came and went. But it bothered her that she didn’t have the opportunity to attend college. You know what she said?
“Stop feeling sorry for your self and do something about it!”
Bee decided to attend night school and soon learned that they had courses in Aviation. With her Brother in Army Air Force, she wanted to do something to support the war effort and she enrolled in aviation courses.
Bee says, “This began my long love affair with flying!”
1944 in her Stearman
Wednesday, February 9, 1944 her journey began as she headed to Sweetwater Texas to learn to fly. But today her Journey continues. What inspires Bee?
“Letting as many people as possible know that there were women flying military aircraft in WWII. There are so many that have never heard of us. I give to the Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX because they are the archivists of WASP memorabilia. We are trying to raise an endowment fund to enable them to continue taking care of our records and giving information to anyone interested.”
I’m not going to share any more of Bee’s story with you. Why? I couldn’t do her life justice, but her book, Letters Home, will.
Jackie (little sister) Bee, and Mom
Bee’s mother saved every letter her children sent to her. The candid humor, language and stories she shares of her adventures, challenges, hopes and dreams during her flying experience from 1944-1945 are enclosed in Bee’s book. Not to mention the photos! I felt like I stepped into another world. Bee inspired me to write a historical fiction novel. The story came to me in my dreams the night I’d finished her book.
Bee: WASP. Wife. Mother. Pilot. Racer. 99...
What defines a person’s life?
In 1977, the WASP finally received recognition as veterans of World War II. Bee was instrumental in making this happen. The struggles were many, and the team of women, and men, who contributed, as well as their efforts, can be read in Letters Home. The story is amazing. What I will tell you is, the plaque for Bee Falk Haydu hanging in the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey is well deserved, as is her Congressional Gold Medal.
Bee in the forward right. Standing in front of the B-52.
(page 101 of Letters Home. To read the names of these fabulous women)
Bee’s life touched me, in many ways. I smiled at her attitude in training, because I share the same perspective. I felt her fear, joy, and challenges, as if they had been mine. Had I been born 42 years earlier I would have met Bee in WASP training, and we would have become life long friends. Toward the end of her book, I discovered Bee has three children born in ’52, ’53, ’54. My three were born in ’83, ’84, ’85. Her husband owned racehorses. My husband owned racehorses. As a matter of fact, Bee’s friend Jockey Eddie Accaro… (a great story in the book) My husband knew of him, and remembered his visit to Long Acres Racetrack in the late ‘50s.
Life is a journey where people and paths cross. Lives are touched. Dreams are created. Passions are lived. Opportunities taken, or given up, create different flight plans. Sometimes they take us to the sky. But at the end of the game we all get to sit back and review the movies of our life. It’s up to us to make them the best they can be.
Who would know that the baby girl, born in December of 1920, would impact the world on such a grand scale? Bee Faulk Haydu is an amazing woman, and the story of her life is remarkable. If you read anything this year, this is it.
Women Airforce Service Pilots
Thank you Bee, for all you’ve done for aviation, women, history, and our country. I'm honored to share your story on Flight to Success.
Enjoy the Journey!