Florence Shutsy-Reynolds wasn’t out of grade school when she sat down to supper one night and announced to her family her intention to learn to fly. Fifteen years later, the determined little girl became the first woman to earn a pilot’s license at her local airport and was headed to join the first-ever group of U.S. women military aviators.
Shutsy-Reynolds was one of 1,100 women who flew for the WASP, an organization formed by the Army Air Forces to free America’s male pilots for overseas combat. For two years, the WASP flew all over the United States, ferrying or towing aircraft from factories to bases and later towing targets for anti-aircraft and gunnery training, testing new or repaired planes and even teaching male cadets.
“The men resented us and didn’t know what to do with us. You had to prove yourself on every flight.”
Midway through training, Shutsy-Reynolds faced a check ride with a scowling Army captain who announced: “I don’t like women and I don’t like women pilots.” Figuring that he’d flunk her no matter what, she relaxed “and gave him a real good ride.”
Although the WASP were not permitted in combat, their work was dangerous. In two years, 38 pilots were killed and others were injured. “Glamour? Hell, it was hard work,” said Shutsy-Reynolds.
Shutsy is coming to attend an Honor Flight that will be sponsored out of Naples. It will go to Washington DC to visit the WWII memorial, as well as many of the other military war memorials on that day. It is a wonderful way to celebrate these wonderful veterans for their service to our country.
Florence “Shutsy” Reynolds will speak at the Everglades Adventure Resort at Port of the Islands on Friday, April 22, 2016 at 11:00 am. No reservation needed, everyone is welcome to come and honor this pioneering and brave pilot.