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Tue, Aug 13, 2019

Gone West: WASP Pilot Dorothy Olsen

Passed Away At Her Home In Tacoma At The Age Of 103

Dorothy Olsen, who was one of 1,879 women to apply for a position in the WASPs during WWII, has Gone West. Olsen passed away at her home in Tacoma, WA on July 23 at the age of 103, according to a report from the New York Times.

Olsen was on of 1,074 women to complete the WASP training program. She was one of only 38 surviving WASPS.

Olsen completed such missions as transporting and flight testing new aircraft, towing aerial targets, and transporting captured enemy planes, according to the report. She flew 61 missions for the Sixth Ferry Group in nearly two dozen different aircraft types, including the P-38, P-51 and B-17. She was reportedly one of only a dozen WASPs certified to fly at night.

Olsen's interest in flying was sparked by Floyd Gibbons' 1927 biography of Baron Manfred von Richtofen "The Red Knight of Germany". Her first flight was one she paid for in a biplane at the state fair in Salem, OR. She paid for her initial flight instruction by teaching tap dancing and ballet lessons, and joined the Woodburn Flying Club. Prior to the war, she was said to be one of only three women in the Portland, OR area to earn a private pilot certificate.

After her children were born, Olsen gave up flying. In an interview with the News Tribune of Tacoma, her daughter quoted Dorothy as saying "Why would I want to fly a Cessna when I’ve flown a P-51?"

(Image via the Olsen Family)

FMI: Source report


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