Betty Strofus, WW2 W.A.S.P. pilot

Update: Betty Wall Strohfus died on March 6, 2016. Her obituary can be found here.

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Betty Wall Strohfus, B-17 and B-26 pilot in 1943-44 during WWII

One of the highlights of my experience has been meeting Betty Wall Strohfus, WWII W.A.S.P pilot, at the Global Girls in Aviation Day at St. Paul Downtown Airport last September.  We served on a panel of women aviation legends together (don’t ask me how I got included in this amazing group.) Betty regaled everyone with great stories of her days ferrying B-17s and B-26s; towing targets for artillery practice (yikes!) and instructing wet-behind-the-ears young men to fly AT-6s and BT-13s.

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The Legends panel: Elizabeth Bierman, president of the Society of Women in Engineering; Elizabeth Strophus, WWII W.A.S.P.; Julie Clark, ret. NWA Captain and aerobatic performer; Dr. Sandra Magnus, Astronaut, Anne Kerr, Lady Skywriter; Barb Wiley, ret. RC/NWA Captain. ©2015 Larry Grace Photography.

Betty lives in Faribault MN and at 96 you can count on her to be involved in most classic aviation events coming down the pike.  She also lends her support to any endeavor promoting equal treatment for females in aviation.

A recent Minneapolis Star Tribune article informs us that Betty’s latest work on the “female front lines” has her pitted against the Pentagon in Washington D.C.  She wonders why the less-than-100 WWII W.A.S.P.s still living are not allowed to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  She has found an ally in Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who says she is “disgusted with this turn of events and will keep pushing on behalf of the surviving women.”

There were about 1,100 Women Airforce Service Pilots during the war, and it took them decades to be finally recognized as veterans in 1977. “We can’t change history and how they were treated for years, but we can change how they are honored,” Klobuchar said.

As for Betty, she is going to be buried with her family in a small cemetery near Faribault.  But she wants “the girls,” as she calls them, to be able to get into Arlington if they choose.

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An astronaut, Dr. Sandra Magnus; A WWII W.A.S.P., Elizabeth Strophus; Scott Romuld, AT-6 Thunder pilot; pictured with the airplane Liz instructed young male pilots in 70 years ago and Scott now flies. ©2015 Larry Grace Photography.

If Amy and Betty can’t get “the girls” into Arlington, nobody can!

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