Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Teresa James, WAF

"I soloed September 3, 1933, in 4 hours and 30 minutes. I swore never to fly again."

Pioneering pilot, Teresa James, was born on January 24, 1914, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and took flying lessons to surprise her brother. She soloed at age 19 and became the first female flight instructor to graduate from Buffalo Aeronautical Institute received her commercial transport license October 27, 1941, with over 600 hours.

She earned the money for her extra flying hours by flying as a stunt pilot at air shows around Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York. "My specialty was doing a 26 turn spin two miles up and pull out at 1,000 feet." She flew
Airplane Stunting Exhibition for three years. As she said later in Jan Churchill's On Wings to War,
"Those were the days of undiluted heroics, but you were known; yet with all my flying time, I never believed I'd get to be a part of history."

She married George "Dink" Martin, one of her flight students, in 1941. Dink enlisted in the Army Air Corps and became a flight instructor and bomber pilot.

From WASP Betty Turner's
"Out of the Blue and Into History," Teresa wrote: "...I received a telegram from General Arnold about a group of women pilots for domestic ferrying. I then had 2,254 flight hours.

I was sworn into the WAFS on October 6, 1942,. I was the first WAFS pilot to fly a military plane coast-to-coast across the United States. It was in a PT-19. I have told of my life adventures in the WAFS in the book
ON WINGS TO WAR by Jan Churchull. In early 1944 Dink was sent overseas. I received word that Dink's B-17 was shot down June 22, 1944.

After deactivation December 1944, I went back home to work in the flower shop. Hoping Dink was a POW, i received official notice that he had been missing in action since June, 1944. in 1984 in Joinville-le-Pont, a suburb of Paris, I talked to witnesses to Dink's crash. After 40 years i found out what happened to Dink.

In 1939, I joined the 99s, and in 1986 was honored by inclusion in the Forest of Friendship in Atchison, Kansas. I am a life member of the P-47 Thunderbolt Pilot Association, the Grasshoppers (Women Pilots of Florida), and the silver Wings Association. I was awarded a Pancho Barnes in 1980. I donated my WAFS uniform to the National Air and Space Museum of The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC, where it is on display."

This pioneering, one-of-a-kind aviator, took her final flight on July 27, 2008, passing away quietly in Lake Worth, Florida. She was 94. Her ashes were carried back to Pennsylvania where her family still owns and operates their flower shop.

Teresa's story has been told beautifully in Jan Churchill's "ON WINGS TO WAR"
Other links to more information on Teresa:

USAF Museum

The Ninety-Nines


The Originals by Sarah Rickman

written and submitted by Nancy Parrish


  1. Hi to all the WASPS out there, my name is Michelle and I am a a relative of Teresa James. My grandfather John Ryan, from the west of Ireland, is her 1st cousin. I see that the "WASPS" got a congressional gold medal today. congratulatios to you all. email

  2. Hey Girl ... wherever you are up there in heaven I know you're causin' some trouble. I still miss you and think of you all the time. Hey, looks like you got yourself a Gold Medal. I'm sure you and Batson are up there together yucking it up over that. God bless and I'm going to check in with your sis Betty next week. We all love and miss you ... you ol' goat you ... :-) Your midnight UFO chattin' buddy ... Tamara

  3. Hi to all you hero's out there. My husband and I were given the privilege of salvaging at a land trust before it's bulldozed in Sedro Wooley, WA. We found a WASP jacket belonging to a Julie Hale (Intermediate WASP) along with a newspaper clipping of the marriage announcement for JAMES, Teresa D. [Martin). We found something with the name SGT Maj. Robinson stationed at Bremerton WA and some of the people who lived in the house were Jo Ann and Barbara Fuller (Jo Ann was a flyer) and a Ivy Hedgecoke. We would be so grateful especially Julie Hale because there is no record of her as a WASP. Somehow all these people are connected to the same house, but we don't know how.

    1. Ivy Hedgecoke was my great aunt and WASP trainee. She lived in that house in Sedro

  4. Saw your flight suit at the museum today. Rest in peace from your fellow aviatrix in Penn Hills.

  5. I luv u teresa rock on

  6. I am so proud of you, Teresa. Great courage, talent and skill.

  7. Jardas (Joinville Le Pont, France)June 23, 2014 at 2:14 AM


    Just here to say that I live in Joinville Le Pont, the city where James'husband aircraft crashed in 1944, June, 22, it's been 70 years yesterday...

    I was walking very next to my appartment and noticed there's a memorial marble plate on a wall saying that it's where 9 american pilots died. After searching on the net, I figured that one of these pilots is George "Dink" Martin, who was James' husband.

    In the memory of George MArtin, and her beloved widow, I tied the first flower I could pick next to the marble plate, and pray for them and for the many men thanks to whom I live in freedom today.

    Thank you American People, I did not know ww2, but I'll be grateful and respectful for the rest of my life.

  8. Teresa was one of a kind. Still loved and very much missed.

  9. I knew Teresa when she lived in Lake Worth, Florida and still have her wartime photo on my wall as she delivered the P-47 "Ten Grand" - the 10,000th P-47 built. I so wanted to drive her to Columbus, Ohio in 2007 to "The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends" where, along with fellow WASPs in attendance, would have been honored for her service. Unfortunately her health prevented her from going but she was in my thoughts as we enjoyed meeting so many WWII pilots and their families and seeing some 80 P-51s on the field. You're still in my thoughts "Jamesy"!

  10. Aunt Tutu, you were an inspiration to all women. You always taught me to never give up in i could do anything in this world. You were the best Aunt a girl could ask for. Wish you could have met all 3 of my kids.But atleast you met my oldest. But believe me they no exactly who there amazing Great Aunt Teresa was. Forever in my heart love you...Jessica James

  11. Teresa James was my Aunt. Her husband, George Martin, was my mother's younger brother. Aviation is in our blood, I served in the USAF for over 30 years. My uncle George flew B-17's. I flew on B-52D's during Viet Nam.