World War II aviator donates aircraft to Pearson Air Museum

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
Pearson Air Museum celebrates a World War II aviator's gift of a vintage aircraft.

Did you know?
Jan Wood, 85, of Reseda, Calif., is one of about 50 surviving wartime women pilots, the WASP of World War II.

As a member of the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots, Wood flew many kinds of aircraft. She continued to fly around the world after the war. On Tuesday, she took the controls for the last time in a Cessna 170B that she has owned since 1953 and flew around the world in 1955-56.

She flew into Vancouver with a co-pilot Tuesday and gave her treasured airplane to the Pearson Air Museum.

A woman who sold her accordion during World War II to pay for lessons so she could fly airplanes in the war effort made her last flight into Vancouver Tuesday.

Then she gave her favorite airplane to Pearson Air Museum.

It wasn't just any airplane, either. It was the 1953 model Cessna that in 1956 and 1957 she flew solo around the world.

"I'm not crying out loud â€" not yet," said pilot Jan Wood, 85, of Reseda, Calif. She was a little unsteady on her legs in the 100-degree heat as she stepped out of the airplane at the museum at 3 p.m. It was a two-day flight from Van Nuys, Calif., with an overnight in Redding, Calif., and lunch in Corvallis, Ore., she said.

Why the gift to the museum?

"Because they are a good deal," said Wood, a former Los Angeles school teacher. "They have a good thing going here."

A native of Los Angeles, Wood is a member of an increasingly exclusive club, the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots, the first women in history to fly American military aircraft. Their ranks are thinning as members age into their late 80s and 90s.

While male pilots flew into combat, the WASP shuttled airplanes all over the United States, putting aircraft in position for deployment to Europe or Asia.

"Jan was here for the WASP reunion last fall and she kind of fell in love with the place then," said museum manager Kyle Kihs.

The museum will drain the fluids out of the airplane, which is probably worth around $20,000, display it and build stories around it as the museum works to teach girls to fly. For example, in the near future, they expect to put on a show featuring an actress playing Amelia Earhart. Like Wood, Earhart was a charter member of the WASP, Kihs said.

Wood's co-pilot Tuesday was Jeff Kertes, a fellow pilot from Van Nuys. He said he's flown airplanes with her for many years.

Among those greeting her were 30 young students taking part in Pearson's aviation summer camp and Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard. There also were a dozen cousins and second cousins from California and northern Washington.

The mayor presented her with a medal, featuring an airplane in flight and celebrating Vancouver's 150th birthday.

"What's this? Most mayors give out keys," Wood sniffed, then grinned.

"Now she wants the key to the city," Pollard said, smiling, and hugging Wood. He checked to make sure she was having dinner with other WASP from the area, and sleeping in a room at the Hilton Vancouver Washington.

Dean Baker writes about history and military affairs. Reach him at 360-759-8009 or e-mail dean.baker@columbia
The museum will drain the fluids out of the airplane, which is probably worth around $20,000, display it and build stories around it as the museum works to teach girls to fly.

So about 40 gallons of aviation fuel, 6 quarts of oil and a pint of hydraulic fluid is worth $20,000 or is that the price of the aircraft?!?! :lol:

I've worked on 170s and actually flown one. One of my "customers" recently sold his.

Interesting article...

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