RIP Elizabeth Strofhus

Elizabeth Strohfus has died at the age of 96 in Minnesota.

Known as Betty and sometimes Liz, Strohfus joined the WASPs — Women’s Air Force Service Pilots — during the Second World War, and she trained to fly every aircraft. The WASPs helped train male combat pilots, and ferried thousands of military planes around the US.

During 1943 and 1944, Strohfus was at a US Army air gunnery school in Las Vegas, training men for in-flight combat. Her job was to dive an AT-6 Avenger fighter-trainer onto formations of B-17 bombers to give the gunners target practice, using special cameras in place of guns.

She also towed cloth sleeves behind her plane so the bombers’ gunners could practice with live ammunition. A couple of fellow WASPs died that way, among the 38 WASPs who died during the war in crashes and other accidents.

When Strohfus learned in the 1970s that the law didn’t recognize WASPs as veterans, she and others lobbied Congress for a change – and they won.


Picture source: U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons