Strohfus, Elizabeth Wall
Date of Interview
Betty Wall Strohfus was born on 15 November 1919 in Faribault, Minnesota, and attended school there, graduating from high school in 1938. Betty then worked at the Faribault courthouse for several years; her first flight in an airplane came in 1942, and she then joined the local Civil Air Patrol. In early 1943 Betty volunteered for the newly formed Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), which performed wartime duties in the US, relieving male pilots for overseas combat assignments. Of the original 1800 women accepted for the new program, just 1074 finished the rigorous training at Avenger Field, Texas, and graduated in early 1944; Betty was one of them. After receiving her wings, Betty was stationed at Las Vegas Army Airfield, Nevada, where she regularly flew several different types of aircraft, including AT-6 trainers and P-39 Aerocobras, and co-piloted larger, multi-engine planes such as B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-26 Marauders. Betty did gunnery training, towing targets over gunnery ranges, and also performed in-flight instrument training for male pilots. Betty Strohfus' military career ended on 20 December 1944, with the military's decision to de-activate the WASP program. She briefly returned to Faribault before moving to Kansas City to complete a Federal Aviation Administration course qualifying her as an aircraft communicator. Betty worked at this job in several locations until 1947, when she returned to Faribault, married, and raised five children. She worked a number of part-time jobs from the 1960s to the 1980s; beginning in the mid-1990s Betty devoted much energy to sharing her story at hundreds of organizations around the United States. Activities included a multitude of veterans and aviation organizations, the co-authoring of several books about her experiences, including Love at First Flight (1994) and Wingtip to Wingtip (2000), and her election in 2000 to the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame. At the time of this interview (September 2001) she lived in Faribault, Minnesota. Betty passed away on 6 March 2016, aged 96
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Saylor, Thomas, "Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941-1946 - Betty Wall" (2001). Oral History Project: World War II Years, 1941-1946. 149.