By Betty “Tack” Blake
Betty “Tack” Blake was a Women’s Air Force Service pilot during World War II and a graduate of the first graduating class in 1943 near Ellington Field in Houston. Almost 80 years later, she still remembers the day she met Amelia Earhart:
Amelia Earhart came to the islands for two or three days, and she gave a talk at the [University of Hawaii]. I was only 14, so I couldn’t drive, but I was already learning to fly. My father drove me to the university, and I was the only kid who was there that night, so they put me in the front row.
So she stood right in front of me as she talked, and it seemed like she was talking right to me. When the talk was finished, all the people lined up to shake her hand and talk to her. As soon as she got through talking to everybody, she came and sat beside me.
We had dinner afterward, and she was going to take off the next day for Australia, so she invited me out to the airport to sit inside her twin-engine Beechcraft. She showed me all the instruments and we had quite a discussion. Then, I watched her take off.
Read the rest of the story here.
By Senior Airman Michael Charles
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
SOUTHWEST ASIA - Staff Sgt. Deidre Nickolson-Edie stood on the windy flight line at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, reading a book filled with maintenance checklists. It was December 1998, the start of Operation Desert Fox, and Nickolson-Edie, an avionics specialist, was part of the maintenance team that would soon launch the first-ever combat mission of the B-1.
“That was the first time service members would rely on this aircraft to potentially save lives in actual combat,” said Nickolson- Edie. “I wanted to make sure that we gave the pilots the best opportunity to fulfill their objectives without worrying about anything going wrong with the aircraft.”
Fourteen years and 9,999 combat missions later, now-Senior Master Sgt. Nickolson-Edie is a lead production superintendant for the B-1 aircraft here and part of the team that launched the landmark 10,000th combat mission.
Read the rest of the story here.
Famed Yankees pitcher “Lefty Gomez” once remarked “I’d rather be lucky than good,” but for one Tuskegee Airman, luck and good combined to make him one of the most successful combat pilots of World War II.
During the summer of 1944, 2nd Lt. Clarence D. “Lucky” Lester was flying the P-51 Mustang over the skies of Italy’s Po Valley providing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers with cover support on their way to attack airfields in southern Germany.
Lester was assigned to the 100th Fighter Squadron, a part of the 332nd Fighter Group, and had earned the nickname “Lucky” “because of all the tight situations from which I had escaped without a scratch or even a bullet hole in my aircraft.”
Read the story of a flight that helped Lester earn his nickname here.
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class David Myrtil directs an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81 aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing 17 are underway conducting operations off the coast of Southern California.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans/Released (Navy.mil)