Inducted in 1999
First Women To Fly American Military Aircraft; Women Air Service Pilots
Anne Baumgartner Carl
1918 – 2008
1922 – 1984
During the early months of World War II, there was a critical shortage of male pilots. America’s foremost woman pilot, Jacqueline Cochran, convinced General H. “Hap” Arnold that a corps of properly trained female pilots could serve as backups for male pilots needed for combat duty. Eventually, 1,074 women completed training and earned their silver wings, thus forming the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). They were the first women to fly American military aircraft. Anne Baumgartner Carl and Jean Hixson were among that group.
Anne Baumgartner Carl learned to fly in 1940 at Somerset Hills Airport in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. She soloed with just eight hours of instruction in a 50-horsepower Piper Cub. Carl learned about the WASP while working as a writer for the New York Times and in January 1943 volunteered for service. She joined the third WASP class at Howard Hughes Field in Houston, Texas, and received her silver wings on September 11, 1943. Assigned to Wright Field, she became the first female test pilot during World War II. One highlight of her career came in October 14, 1944, when she became the first woman to fly the Bell YP-59A, America’s first jet powered fighter.
Jean Hixson was born in Hoopeston, Illinois. She started flight training at the age of 16 and earned her private pilot license by the age of 18. In December 1943, Hixson entered WASP flight training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, and after completing training was assigned to a B-25 base in Douglas, Arizona, as an engineering test pilot.
Following the war, Hixson taught school in Akron, Ohio, for 31 years and served in the Air Force active reserves. She also earned a commercial pilot license in both single and multi-engine aircraft and logged over 6,000 hours. In 1957, she became the second woman to fly through the sound barrier. She retired in 1982 as a full colonel with more than 30 years of service.