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

14 responses so far

14 Responses to “Bernice “Bee” Falk Haydu 44-7”

  1. Jeanneon 19 Sep 2008 at 5:30 pm

    I just read an article about you and the WASPS in the Honolulu Star Bulletin (http://starbulletin.com/2008/09/19/features/story03.html). It mention that you’d written a book. I’d be interested in reading it; is it available for purchase anywhere?

    Jeanne

  2. Bernice Hayduon 04 Oct 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Please send me your email address and I will let you know how you can get my book. Thanks for your interest. Bee Haydu

  3. Bernice Hayduon 22 Nov 2008 at 7:18 pm

    You can obtain my book either through my website or directly from me at email: beehaydu@beehaydu.com

  4. Troyon 01 May 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Do you often travel to New Jersey or might you know of any women in the NJ area who share a similar past? Our girls would like to interview women aviators who have served in the imlitary. Thank you!

  5. Tom Beeleron 02 Jul 2009 at 6:34 am

    Bernice, Betty Nicholas was a dear friend and neighbor. She helped me with a radio interview about her time in the WASPs when I was in grad school. A pilot myself, I did a lot of hangar flying with her in those days. I often asked Betty about Jackie Cochran, a woman about whom I’ve always been curious and felt is, sadly, under-recognized.

  6. Lauren Kirbyon 04 Jul 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Bee – I would like to speak or email with you about a nomination I am working on for Women in Technology. I am Genevieve North’s daughter, Lauren. Please get in touch for a brief interview so I can write up the nomination. Thanks and looking forward to it. Lauren, 703.216.2085

  7. Doris Fartburyon 19 Dec 2009 at 5:08 pm

    This is radical dudes,keep rockin’!!!

  8. Claudiaon 06 Feb 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Bee,
    I met you and bought your book at Oshkosh this year. Reading through it, so many things you wrote home touched me very personally. You’ve inspired me greatly and I only hope I can go on to inspire others the same way.
    So, so much love and luck to you in 2010.

  9. ruth's daughter, florence EPSTEIN leibinon 11 Mar 2010 at 12:57 pm

    bernice

    it has been so long, but, i was delighted and thrilled to see you on tv last evening receiving the presidential medal of honor! my mother, ruth, would have been so proud and so delighted for you!

    my dad is near 90 and still lives in bayonne! harvey and i ( as i think you know) live in connecticut! our kids are now 26, 28 and 29! i imagine you know that my brothers, jim and jeff, passed away shortly after mom died….

    in any case, i hope all is well….you look great and i send warm wishes, congrats, and love!

    florence

  10. Sandor Horky Jr.on 12 Mar 2010 at 1:10 am

    Hi Aunt Bea

    In the Az Republic today there was a article featuring Elaine Harmon (Women Airforce Service Pilots) receiving the Congressional Gold Medal. Made me look your
    name up on the internet.
    Congradulations on the Gold Medal. It is well deserved by all WASPs

    Hoping you are fine. Since mother and fathers death we have not been in contact with many relatives. We have lived in AZ for 11 years. We have 2 boys and 2 girls.
    We have 7 grandsons and 1 more grandson on the way.

    We thought we would drop you a line.

    Sandor Jr. & Gail Horky

  11. Coni Dawsonon 28 Mar 2010 at 10:35 am

    Dear Bee, I had the opportunity and great pleasure of attending you symposium and the “meet and greet” at Fantasy of Flight with a young friend (she is 55 and I am 78). She did not know a lot about the group and was very interested along with the group of very young girls brought in by bus. I found out about you and the other WASPs when I acquired a book called Those Wonderfull Women in Their Flying Machines. I was both inspired and appalled by what I read! Your courage and patriotism was inspiring and the response of government appalling. I am so glad to see that these women finally received the recognition they deserve. Being a woman I was not in the least bit surprised by the fact that the men refused to do things like towing targets while you girls did it. It was a pleasure to speak a few words with you and see the Medal which you kindly allowed me take out of the box so that I could see the other side. You are an inspiration to girls and young women and I especially loved that you sat on the podium and told these young girls that they could do anything they chose to do. I think your service and life has been just one long “You Go Girl!!!”
    Thank and keep well, Coni Dawson

  12. Marie Wheeler-Nicholsonon 31 May 2010 at 3:18 am

    Miss Bernice it was an honor to meet you this Memorial Day at the Airpower Museum on Long Island..that was truly the highlight of this Memorial Day. The poster you signed for me will be a gift for my niece Ellie. Thank You, and I am grateful for the opportunity to shake your hand.
    Your Soldiers’ Angels Friend in NY Marie

  13. Paul Ogdenon 30 Jul 2010 at 12:51 am

    Hello Bernice,

    I work with a bunch of aviation buffs in Riviera Beach (personally I’m kind of a WWII history buff too) and just read your story. Thanks for all you did for our country. Sorry you didn’t get to fly the B-25.

    I was wondering if you might be interested in having lunch with our gang sometime. I think we would get along smartly. We would be pleased to pick you up and go over to Sailfish or someplace. Or meet you there if you’re more comfortable with that. Our treat.

    I would be delighted if you would drop me a line. My daytime phone is
    561 721 4162. This is at ASG Medical in Riviera Beach. asgmedical.com if you’re interested.

  14. Nicole Deanon 17 Nov 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Ma’am,

    I can’t tell you what an honor it was to meet you at the Army Aviation Association of America’s Naitonal Convention not too long ago (Nashville, 2009). The book that you gave me has been an inspiration, and it accompanied me to Afghanistan that summer. Each time I pull out my AAAA Convention “Fifinella” glass, I smile in honor of all the brave female aviators who have paved the way for all of us now serving in military aviation!

    I just wanted to wish you congrats on your Congressional Gold Medal, and thank you again for your bravery!

    With the deepest admiration,
    Nikki Dean
    CPT, AV

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply