Thursday, October 15, 2009


WASP Margaret Ann Hamilton Tunner passed away Tuesday evening, October 13, 2009. This gentle lady from Oklahoma was a pilot through and through and a lady in every sense of the word. She loved making things grow, wasn't afraid to dig in the dirt, and she knew how to sparkle from the inside out.

Born on September 3, 1917, in Enid, Oklahoma, Ann's first ride was in a bi-wing plane on what she described as a 'dusty strip named Woodward,' in Enid, Oklahoma. After paying three dollars for a ride, and experiencing the thrill of spins and stalls, Ann didn't think she would ever want to fly again.

After attending Oklahoma College for Women and Oklahoma University, she really fell in love with flying and finally soloed in Tulsa, Oklahoma as part of the CPT program (Civilian Pilot Training) at Tulsa, University. Spins and stalls were no longer a problem for the newly licensed private pilot.

For the next 2 years, Ann flew her J-3 Cub all over Oklahoma and Texas, before aerial charts were available, using road maps. In 1942, she read an article about Jacqueline Cochran and the newly formed Women's Flying Training program. Ann was interviewed and accepted into the second class, graduating in May of 1943.

After graduation, Ann was stationed at Romulus, Michigan, AFB, as a part of the 3rd Ferrying Group, In the early days of her assignment, the only ferrying was limited to liaison type aircraft, much like her J-3 Cub, but, eventually, Ann was sent to ATC's pursuit school, and was able to begin ferrying higher performance fighters including the P-51 Mustang, P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-39 Aircobra and P064 Kingcobra. While at Romulus, she also served as squadron officer and as co-pilot in the B-17 and B-24.

After the WASP were deactivated, Ann returned to Oklahoma University, working for a brief time for the Alumni Association before moving to New York City, were she ferried WWII planes from the 'boneyards' to new owners. For a time, she worked as a private secretary to the famous aircraft designer, Alexander P. deSeversky. She also worked as an admissions counselor at Columbia University and a professional model.

In 1948, Ann moved to Japan, worked for the Army Occupational Forces, then returned to the states to marry Lt. General William H. Tunner in 1951. Their daughter, Hamilton Suzanne Tunner, was born in 1952.

In 1977, along with Senator Barry Goldwater, her husband, and a few others, Ann testified before Congress in request of recognizing for the WASP as having performed militarily during WWII. The effort was successful, and the WASP were given the military status they had well earned in WWII.

After serving as Commanding General of the United States Air Forces in Europe, and Chief of Staff, after successully moving the Air Transport Command Headquarters from Andrews AFB (VA) to Scott Air Force Base (IL), in 1960, General Tunner retired as Commander in Chief of Air Transportation, USAF. The Tunners retired to a beautiful farm in Ware Neck, Virginia in 1960. In 1983, General Tunner passed away.

Ann remained on "Hockley Farm" for many years, tending her garden and nurturing her family. Still in love with aviation until her last few years, Ann flew an ultralight aircraft.

Although her passing is a sad day, those who loved her most know that she was an active 92-year old until she suffered a major stroke on Oct. 11, 2009.

"A good life, well lived, and we will miss her greatly," said Nancy L. Miller.

There will be a memorial service at Ware Church in Gloucester, Virginia, on Saturday, October 24, at 2 pm, and Ann will be buried sometime later at Arlington National Cemetery, next to her husband, General William Tunner.

Posted with great respect,
and prayers for her family and all the lives she touched,
Nancy Parrish

(based on Ann's own words from WASP Betty Turner's "Out of the Blue Into History")

Virginia's Historic Marker Honoring the WASP and Margaret Tunner 


  1. Being in Aviation most of my life, this is beautiful. WASP, Ann Tunner and many others like her paved the way for us who came later. USAF, TSGT Retired, Peter Wilson

  2. Hi Nancy--thank you for posting this. It is very sad news indeed. Margaret Ann, or M.A., as she was afectionately known, was one of my mother's bext friends in the WASP. My mother, Margaret Kerr Boylan was also from a small town in Oklahoma--Ada. She has dementia now, but her wonderful memories of the WASP and M.A. still are fresh. My sister Ann and I send our sincerest condolences to the family.

    Lisa Boylan

  3. I just found this post and am sorry to hear the news of MA's passing. I would love to get in touch with the family as I have a piece of history involving her; a 1943 L-2M which she ferried from the factory to Kansas. She made an emergency landing in the airplane during a thunderstorm (in a field). I have the complete report. If any of her family would like to go for a ride in an airplane she flew in 1943, it is here in Oklahoma and flies weekly. .

  4. While pre-flighting the B-17 "Aluminum Overcast" at Oshkosh one day I overheard a comment from my left side. I was busy looking at the underside of the wing and turned my head towards that person, a woman who was wearing dark sunglasses. I didn't recognize her and she then repeated her comment, took off her sunglasses and said "Randy, it's Anne". I then exclaimed "Anne, good grief, I didn't recognize you behind those sunglasses". I'd sat with her at an EAA dinner one night in the years past when I'd flown that EAA B-17 into an airport at Newport News. She always referred to her husband, William Tunner, as "The General". Sorry to learn at this late date of her passing, wonderful person. Only other WASP I've been around is one who's flown with me on the B-29 "Fifi", Liz Stoltfuz from just south of us here in Minnesota.

    Best, Randy Sohn

  5. I believe that this is close to a story that Anne Tunner told me. I am sorry if my memory serves me incorrectly and I heard it elsewhere.

    "A young lieutenant sat down next me at lunch in the airport and pointed to a P51 Mustang out on the field." He said, "That's what I fly. It's one of the toughest airplanes to control and only a real man can handle it."

    To which she replied, "Well, it didn't seem that tough when I was flying it in here...."