Elaine Danforth Harmon was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1919, the second of three girls. Her father played professional baseball and was a dentist, and her mother was a housewife. Harmon graduated from Eastern High School in Baltimore in 1936. She attended the University of Maryland in College Park and graduated with a bachelor of science in microbiology in 1940. Harmon joined the Civilian Pilot Training Program at the College Park Airport while she was student and learned how to fly.
Harmon was married on 26 July 1941, and traveled with her husband while he did civilian war work in the United States. Harmon joined the WASP in March 1944, while her husband was sent to the South Pacific. She attended WASP training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, and graduated on 11 November 1944. Until the WASP disbanded on 20 December 1944, Harmon was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she helped male pilots with their instrument flying.
Harmon returned to Baltimore in late 1944 and then went to California to work as an air traffic controller. She returned to Maryland in October 1945 when her husband returned from overseas. The Harmons settled in Silver Springs, Maryland, and raised four children. Elaine Harmon also had a twenty-five year career in real estate appraisal.
Her oral history interview (which can be found at the Jackson Library at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) primarily documents Elaine’s childhood; her service with the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) in 1944; and her life after the war, including her involvement in efforts to gain military status for the WASP in the 1970s.
Picture and text credits: Jackson Library, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro