FORT WORTH - On Memorial Day, we get a chance to honor the men and women who died while serving our country. This year, Tarrant County College decided to give a special salute to the women who served in World War II, inviting six Air Force pilots to commemorate the holiday.
These WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots) were the first females to fly American military aircraft. The women got to tour the personal Beechcraft plane flown by the late Jacqueline Cochran, the founder and director of the WASP program.
"This N number right here (N13JC) had to stay with Jacqueline Cochran," says Associate Professor Curtis Landrum. “This is her personal N number that she kept the whole time she flew."
TCC acquired the plane in 1985. A team of volunteers has been restoring the Smithsonian-registered craft since the summer of 2012.
“The plane has some celebrity history. It was owned by Merv Griffin and a lot of celebrities flew in the aircraft," explained the Department Chair of the Aviation Maintenance Program Darrell Irby. "But to an aviation person, the fact that Jackie Cochran owned it makes it a celebrity airplane to us.”
Landrum says the volunteers who work on the plane believe it’s an honor to restore it to its past glory.
“They are so happy to be part of a restoration project that is going to be a part of aviation history forever. We're going to make it flyable and maintain it.”
So, what did the pioneer pilots think?
Bee Haydu was very impressed. “I'm really awestruck. It's beautiful and I think the job that they`re doing on it is just great.”
And Nell Bright believes it’s something Jackie would be very proud of.
“She'd love it. Yeah, she'd love it. She would be so pleased.”