ETHEL MEYER FINLEY WASP 43-W-5
I was born on August 29, 1920, in
Lake City, Minnesota. I began my flying career while a student at
Winona State Teachers College in Winona, Minnesota. My majors were in
science and physical education.
In the fall of my senior year, I was selected as the first woman in the college to participate in the Civilian Pilot Training program. Max Conrad taught me. I taught school for a year and six weeks. I found out you could not earn a living and have enough left to fly airplanes. Max gave me a job operating the Link trainer in exchange for flying time.
I entered the WASP at Sweetwater, March1943, in the class of 43-5. After graduation, I was assigned to Love Field, but reassigned in a few weeks to the Eastern Flying Training Command. After a short period of transition and flying co-pilot for Headquarters, we were assigned to engineering at Shaw Field, Sumter, South Carolina.
Ten of us were sent to Randolph Field for instruction in formation flying, acrobatics and flying from the rear seat. I was sent back to Shaw field, a Basic Training field, and assigned to regular squadron. Both male instructors and students accepted me. By the time of deactivation, I had logged 1006:55 hours of flying time.
After deactivation, I married James
Finley, the Director of Flying at Shaw Field. We have three children:
Janet, Michael and Joanne. We have four grandchildren: Shannon,
Benjamin, Rachel and Evan. I have two great granddaughters: Nicole and
Hailey. Jim is deceased as of October 1988.
Following marriage, I did not pursue a career outside the home. After the children were grown, I became active in women's affairs by starting halfway houses for women recovering from substance abuse, and I am a member of the Delaware Commission for Women.
In 1982, I was reintroduced to the WASP organization. I began taking an active role by becoming Region I Director in 1986. I continue to service in many capacities: President 1992-1994; on the Memorial and Awards Committee; Editor of the WASP News; Region I Director; and in charge of Air Shows and Special Events at the present time, 1999, 2000.
(reprinted from "Out of the Blue and Into History" by WASP Betty Stagg Turner, 2001 Aviatrix Publishing. text from page 145.)