Bernice “Bee” Falk Haydu 44-7

I receive many requests for information about the WASP and my participation with them. Consequently I have made up this biography which I hope will be helpful. Good luck on your project and thanks for your interest in the WASP.

The beginning of 1944 I was accepted in the 44-7 WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) training class. Our primary training was in PT l7’s (Stearman) from which our next phase was the Advanced trainer, AT 6. We then went into BT 13’s for instrument training and finally into AT6 and Stearman for cross country including night flying.

Our 7 month training included formation flying and aerobatics. After graduation, I was stationed at Pecos Army Airfield, Pecos, Texas which was a UC78 (twin engine aircraft) advanced training field. My tasks were engineering test pilot and utility pilot. We were disbanded Dec. 20, 1944 and the field became a B25 school. Had we been in the program just ll more days, I would have been flying B25’s – SIGH – (a twin engine Bomber). After the WASP I tried to get a job flying to no avail. I obtained my instructor’s rating, did free lance teaching in flying and ground school. I was able to get odd jobs ferrying surplus aircraft from bases all over the country to points in the northeast where they were sold. Aircraft manufacturers were just beginning to turn out aircraft. I saw need for ferry pilots to ferry Aeronca and Cessna aircraft from factory to the northeast (I lived in N.J.) and so started this business. This lead to my obtaining a Cessna dealership and in one year I sold 20 new Cessna aircraft. I then joined a group of 8 other veterans who formed a Flight School. I instructed and helped to run the operations. Eventually we were put out of business by a highway that took away one of our runways. I then procured a position with Indamer in N. Y. C., a company that sold aircraft and aircraft parts to India. They had a Beech Bonanza which I could fly.

In 1951 I married Joe Haydu who had been a Stearman Instructor in Camden, S. C. during the war. At that time he had a Stagger Wing Beech and some Stearman. After a few years absent from flying because we had 3 children, we went back to flying and have done so throughout our lives until about 2 years ago. We have owned a variety of airplanes. Single and twin Beech, Stearman, Cessna 210, l52, twin, YAK 52 (Russian aerobatic trainer). I have flown in 2 Powder Puff Derbies and l Angel Derby.

In 1975 I was honored to have been elected President of Order of Fifinella, the WASP organization. Col. Bruce Arnold, the son of General Hap Arnold, had in 1972 attempted to obtain veteran status for us. In 1975 he launched a full-fledged “battle” to do this. At that time we had a treasury of about $60 and knew we would need funds and super cooperation of members as well as locating so many “lost” WASP. Ignorance is often bliss for had I known then the amount of time necessary to accomplish this, I may have thought twice before accepting the position. The task became a full time job. Without the full cooperation and efforts of our Board, Sara Hayden, V.P.; Betty Nicholas, Secy. and Treas.; Marty Wyall, Historian; Betty Cross, Newsletter Editor; Di Di Deaton, Chief Staff Executive Officer at the Sweetwater, TX. Training school; Ziggy Hunter, Membership and the one who located so many “lost” WASP; the many throughout the country who jumped on the band-wagon and OF COURSE, Col. Bruce Arnold without whom this would never have happened. I followed all of his instructions and advice which necessitated much midnight oil being burned. So many people had to be kept informed, so many Newsletter articles to be written, so many House of Representatives and Senators to be contacted , so much publicity to be sought and the public to be informed – the job was endless. Between 1976 and 1977 I appeared on over 14 TV and Radio programs including Good Morning America and To Tell The Truth, was interviewed for many nationwide newspaper. Finally with the invaluable help of Col. Bruce Arnold, Sen. Barry Goldwater, House Representatives Lindy Boggs and Margaret Heckler as well as our scattered membership, the Congress voted to have us declared as veterans of WWII. President Jimmy Carter signed this bill into law Nov. 23, 1977.

We started a new organization with the name originally Women Military Pilots to incorporate the current women military pilots. The name was changed to Women Military Aviators so more of the women other than the pilots could be included. We have many distinguished members including Eileen Collins, Astronaut. I am the Historian for this outstanding group.

My uniform is on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
I was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame, Teterboro Airport, Teterboro. N.J. May 11, 2000. I was the WMA President 1978 – 1980. I have written a book entitled LETTERS HOME 1944-1945 detailing my life as a WASP and thereafter. For information on how you can get a copy of the book, please contact me at beehaydu@beehaydu.com

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