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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bernice “Bee” Falk Haydu

Friday's Fabulous Flyer:

Bernice “Bee” Falk Haydu

WASP Women Airforce Service Pilots

December 15, 1920 history was being born in Bradley Beach, New Jersey, as Bernice “Bee” Falk made her entry into the world.

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.

You too will be inspired by reading Letters Home. Bee donates "all proceeds" to Texas University, Denton, Texas.

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.

Letters Home


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!

XOX Karlene


  1. Thank you so much for sharing very brave person!!I like the way she thinks"Stop feeling sorry for yourself,and do something". I will get Letters book,and discover her journey.
    Have a great day!!

    1. Hi Jun, she is a very brave person and we can all learn so much from her. You will enjoy her book, and that will be a nice break from studies too.

  2. Inspiring story.. Determinated person, coming from a determinated family .. I hadn't heard about this lady, thanks a lot for sharing

    1. Hi Carlos, she is an inspiration. I'm so glad that I could share her story with you. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Wow, that is a book I would like to read. That was a fascinating era of our recent history, and Bee seems like a wonderful protagonist. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Linda, this is a great read. And she's donating all the profits. Such a great woman! She is a wonderful protagonist... we need more women like her in this world. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Bee is a most inspiring person ... I met her one year at Oshkosh, we were both mentors for the Women Soar, You Soar program!

    1. Michelle, how exciting! I hope to meet her one day too. You soar!!! It's great to be a mentor. Thanks so much for your comment!

  5. I actually met her at an airshow.
    I'm doing a school project on her also right now!'t know this todaywhat I would Have done Without
    This really helped (because I forgot my book at home)! I don't know what I would have done without this today. THANK YOU!!
    Also, could you perhaps give me two fun facts about her?

    1. You are so welcome!!! Okay... fun facts: She owned a single and twin Beech, Stearman, Cessna 210, l52, twin and YAK 52 (Russian aerobatic trainer). And she has flown in two Powder Puff Derbies and one Angel Derby.

  6. Dear Karlene,

    Nice blog entry on another 'unsung' everyday hero of 'our greatest generation'...

    The photo caption of Bernice and her WASP 'sisters' could use a bit of enhancing: 1) by specifying specifically which one she is, i.e. 'Standing 3rd from left' or whatever, and 2) correcting the aircraft type from 'B-52' (later 4-jet engine powered bomber) to 'at the rear of a B-25'.

    For those interested, I have memorialized her in, memorial # 169840580, where anyone can visit on-line and leave 'flowers and notes of remembrance' in her honor, and that others may read.

    Bernice will be inurned at Arlington National Cemetery at a date yet to be determined.


    1. Thank you so much e49! And for the added enhancement. Very much appreciated. Thank you for memorializing her.

  7. I just had lunch with Bea and Shirley Kruse (another WASP). It was one of the highlights of my life as a person and as an pilot. Thank you ladies. I am privileged to be your friend.

    1. Daniel, what an incredible opportunity for you!!! Please, the privilege is all mine!!


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