My article, “Born to Fly: A WAFS Pilot in WWII” — the story of Betsy Ferguson’s service to her country — is featured in Kansas Heritage, Winter 2006, Volume 14, Number 4, published quarterly by the Kansas State Historical Society.
Betsy, from Coffeyville, Kansas, was one of The Originals — the subject of my first published book, THE ORIGINALS. The Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) were the first 28 women to fly Army airplanes in WWII. In the 1950s, Betsy also served as a Reserve officer in the U.S. Air Force. Hers was a non-flying commission, as women were not allowed in the cockpits of Army airplanes between 1945 and the mid-1970s. She also worked for Civil Defense through which she witnessed one of the atomic bomb tests in the Nevada desert in 1955.
Betsy’s story is the third biographical article on one of the WAFS that I have had published. The first was “Nancy Batson, Pursuit Pilot Extraordinaire” in Alabama Heritage, published by the University of Alabama (Summer 2002) and the second was “Barbara Erickson: From Rosie the Riveter to B-17 Pilot,” published Summer 2005 in Air Power History magazine. A fourth article, on WAFS Helen Richards, currently is awaiting publication in Aviation History magazine.
My goal is to write individual biographical articles on all 28 of these women, publish as many as possible, and then compile them into a book. To date, I have actually written ten of the articles, though only four have been placed, and I continue my research at every opportunity.
Sarah Byrn Rickman