13 September 2019

Tragedy in Texas: The Death of WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) Alice Lovejoy


WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots)
Alice Lovejoy 43-W-4
 (14 August 1915 - 13 September 1944)

(excerpt from To Live and Die a WASP)
Alice Lovejoy (43-W-5) was flying over the Port Isabel Channel, near Brownsville, Texas in the rear seat of an AT-6 Texan fighter. She had just celebrated her 29th birthday and her first anniversary as a WASP pilot.
 
Port Isabel Channel, Texas
 Her first duty station had been the Romulus Army Airfield near Detroit, Michigan. There, for a year, she learned to fly heavier aircraft, including B-17, B-24, and B-25 bombers. Delivery flights took her all over the country and even into Canada.

 
WASP Alice Lovejoy

As one of the more qualified WASP pilots, Alice got orders for Pursuit School at the Brownsville Army Airfield, where she would fly some of the country’s best and fastest fighter aircraft.



Born August 15, 1915, in Scarsdale, New York, Alice was the second of four daughters born to Frank and Emma Lovejoy. …



… In early 1942, with the country now at war, she became a clearance officer for the Piper Aviation Company in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. There she earned her pilot license and a year later, March 26, 1943, she began her WASP training in Sweetwater.



Just after noon, September 13, 1944, three planes were on a training exercise in a V Formation. Alice and her instructor were flying back behind the leading AT-6 as one of the wingmen. Descriptions of the accident are vague, but it appears that one of the wingmen was moving into either a Right or Left Echelon Formation—where the planes change from a triangular formation into a diagonal line formation with one plane following the other.
 
WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) Alice Lovejoy
 …  Because news reports say there was a collision between the two wingmen when the “wing planes were changing position,” and because of the final crash results, it’s possible that Alice was piloting the plane that was moving, right or left, and she was the pilot who collided with the other plane when she was moving up into position.



Alice was unconscious. She must have struck her head somehow. Her slightly injured instructor, who was flying with her, said he tried to get her out, but couldn’t. He jumped to safety, landing at the mouth of the Port Isabel Channel, and was rescued from the water by the crew of an Army engineering dredge. Alice crashed and died in the AT-6. The other pilot made it back to Brownsville Field safely. He was uninjured.
 RIP

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