Considered by the other Mercury 13 gals to be the best of the crew, and generally
considered to be the most experienced of them all, Jean was 37 when her call came
in 1961. She had been a WASP in WWII, one of the heroic women who fought the very
same barriers in WWII that the Mercury 13 fought. These
wonderful aviators flew everything in the Army Air Force (forerunner to the USAF)
inventory in a variety of missions. They towed targets for live gunnery practice,
ferried aircraft domestically and overseas, they instructed, you name it they did
it. Everything but combat.
Jean was a graduate of WASP Class 44-6 at Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas, and
went on to fly the B-25 twin-engine bomber as an Engineering Test Pilot, and also
took an advanced instrument course. After WWII, she became a flight instructor in
Akron, Ohio. After hours, she attended Akron University and received a degree in
Elementary and Secondary Education. In 1952, she began a new career as a teacher. It was there she began an Astronomy Course, and took her kids on field trips to NASA's Lewis Research Center in Cleveland.
After testing at Lovelace, Jean went to work at the Flight Simulator Techniques
branch of the USAF Reserve at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. In 1982, she
retired from the Air Force Reserves as a bird Colonel, and that same year chaired a
WASP reunion. In 1983 she completed 30 years of service with the Akron (Ohio)
School system. Sadly, Jean died of cancer at age 62. What a woman, but more so,
what a PILOT.