Lois Auchterlonie standing with a plane from WWII.
In 1943 Lois Auchterlonie answered Uncle Sam’s call and stood in the face of cultural and gender bias, risked her life and served her country, and she did it all with a smile.
“ I just wanted to fly, if I could I would go back and do it all again,” she said.
Auchterlonie was a WASP; Women’s Airforce Service Pilot in WWII. There were a total of 1,102 WASP, 300 of which are still alive today. Auchterlonie’s highest rank was captain.
During WWII the WASP were created to help with the shortage of male pilots. They would ferry planes between bases and test them to make sure they were up to flying standards.
All the planes that men flew in combat were previously flown by women. The women were allowed to fly only non-combat missions and were still considered civilians despite their services.
While the WASP were in commission between 1942 and 1944 they flew over 60 million miles. The group was disbanded before the end of WWII.
Because these women were considered civilians they did not receive military benefits or military honors when they passed while serving their country.
In 1977 the WASP received medical benefits after the Senate passed a resolution. Currently the WASP are fighting for congressional gold medals, America’s highest civilian award, the bill passed the senate in June of 2009.
The WASP were women ahead of their time. They were the first women pilots in uniform and helped change the course of women in history.
“We didn’t get a lot of respect from the men until they flew with us, then they knew we were real pilots too.”
After the war Auchterlonie kept flying, she owned a Cherokee 180 plane.
“When I wasn’t flying I was thinking about flying.”
She married her high school sweetheart Carl who passed away in 1996. Auchterlonie is the co-founder of AARF (Anacortes Animal Relief Fund) in Anacortes, WA where she lived until 2008.
Auchterlonie then relocated to Lake Stevens to be closer to her family.
It is easy to say Lois Auchterlonie has had an amazing and influential life.