Friday, May 30, 2008

Bette "Pat" Pratt Stark, 43-W-8T

New Horizons - Pat Stark

Bette "Pat" Stark went on to New Horizons Sunday, May 18, 2008, at the age of 87.

Pat began her flying career in a CPT course taught at Bowling Green State University. After graduating in 1943 with a BA degree, Pat entered training* for the WASP program in Sweetwater, Texas. She flew PT-19s, BT-13s, BT-15s and AT6s.

After the war she moved on to Miami, Florida where she worked for Emery Riddle Flying School and National Airlines. After picking up her Commercial License in Florida, she moved on to New York and a job with American Airlines at La Guardia Airport.

She married Paul Stark in 1946 and settled in Adrian, Michigan for a few months-tearing down engines and replacing fabric on J-3s. She also picked up her Instructor's Rating in Toledo, Ohio.

Pat and Paul moved back to BGSU. Paul got a degree in coaching and Pat taught high school English. On weekends Pat took Paul flying, mostly aerobatics, which she loved.

They moved to the Cleveland area and for a time lived near the end of Runway 23 at Cuyahoga County Airport.

Pat was chairman of the Lake Erie Chapter from 1970-80, receiving the Achievement Award in 1979, Pilot of the Year in 1983 and an Amelia Earhart medal. She later changed chapters to All-Ohio and later to Women With Wings (both in Northeast Ohio).

Through her 70s, Pat taught flying-related classes with the Lake Erie Coast Guard. She was also a member of the Cleveland Chapter of the Air Force Association (AFA).

She is survived by her husband, John Paul (a resident at the Western Reserve Masonic Community in Medina, Ohio), her three children, Roger, Sandra and Bette, two grandchildren and two step-grandchildren. There was no memorial service.

Cris Takacs
Lake Erie Chapter 99s
International Women-s Air & Space Museum

*edited for accuracy

Monday, May 26, 2008


WASP Lovelle Richards Benesh, who had suffered from Alzheimer's disease, passed away on April 20, 2008. In November, 1942, Lovelle paid her way to Texas to enter the experimental flight training program, not quite sure what would be expected of her--but she knew she was going to fly for her country. Lovelle was a member of the "GUINNA PIG" class--the first women to be trained thru the Army Air Force flight training program--Houston, Texas. She, along with 29 classmates, raised her right hand and took the 'OATH' to serve her country and defend the Constitution of the United States "so help me God." This incredible group of young women pilots had all been selected by Jacqueline Cochran. Requirements for entrance into the Women's Flying Training program for the first class included a private pilot license and at least 200 hours. On their first day, the chief pilot tells the first class: "The first thing you'll have to do is forget everything you thought you knew about how to fly. Forget it. Now. And be willing to learn. Don't expect your instructor to be polite and gentle. He won't be. And if he cusses at you, you probably deserve it, so don't go running to Mrs. Deaton to complain. The last thing you want to be is a quitter...and it is up to you whether this entire Women's Flying Training Program succeeds and opens the way for hundreds of pilots like you to fly military planes. Or you can fail, by acting like spoiled brats, by giving up because you don't like the food, or your flight instructor, or ground school. It's up to you. You are the Guinea Pigs."* Lovelle went on to complete the training and graduate. Her assignment was to Long Beach--to be part of the Ferry Command. In Byrd Granger's "On Final Approach," is an entry for June 23, 1943: WASP ferry pilots Lovelle Richards and Geri Lamphere are hauling their parachutes toward L-5 Stinson puddle-jumpers for the next leg on the long journey from the factory at Romulus into the Deep Soluth./ Tagging along are 2 Army pilots, also flying Sinsons, who pay no attention to regulations to keep away from women pilots." Sometime during this trip, the weather closed in and a Texas-sized thunderstom forced them all to land at a small field. Eventually, the storm devestated the tiny aircraft as the pilots all watched helplessly. She resigned sometime before December of 1944 to get married. ________________
From the official obituary: Jozy Lovelle Richards Benesh 88 of Upland California died April 20 2008 at San Antonio Community Hospital. Born October 23rd 1919 in Flora Illinois. She was a local resident for 49 years and was a homemaker. From 1943-44 she served with the Women AirForce Service Pilots. She was a member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Upland.
Mrs. Benesh is survived by her husband Kenneth Vance Benesh of Upland, daughters Marjorie Elizabeth Benesh of Upland, sons Kenneth V.Benesh Jr. of Colton and Don Wylie Benesh of Pittsburg, Ca. 7 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Memorial Mass will be Friday May 2 2008 at 11am at St. Joseph catholic Chruch in Upland California.Graveside prayers will be at 1:31 pm Friday may 2 Area #6 at Riverside national Cemetery, Riverside.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society or the Catholic Charities, USA. Stone Funeral Home in charge of arrangements. *P. 72-73 "On Final Approach" by WASP Byrd Granger

Lovelle Richards Benesh, 43-W-1

October 23, 1919 - April 20, 2008