|Died||21 Mar 1943|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseCornelia Clark Fort was born into a wealthy family in Nashville, Tennessee, United States; her father Rufus Elijah Fort was a founder of National Life and Accident Insurance Company. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, United States in 1939. She learned to fly in Hawaii, United States, and was working as a civilian pilot instructor there when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor. When the attack began, she was airborne with a student in an Interstate Cadet aircraft. Observing the Japanese insignia on the attacking planes and smoke rising from the harbor, she landed at John Rodgers civilian airport; she was strafed by a Japanese Zero fighter as she was landing. She returned to the continental United States in early 1942 where she promoted war bonds. Later in 1942, she was recruited by Nancy Love to served in the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS). Accepting the offer, she became the second to join the program. As a member of the 6th Ferrying Group based in Long Beach, California, United States, she ferried aircraft from factories to military bases. On 21 Mar 1943, another aircraft collided with the BT-13 aircraft she was ferrying 10 miles south of Merkel, Texas, causing the BT-13 to crash, killing her. She was the first fatality in the WAFS program. The footstone of her grave inscribed "Killed in the Service of Her Country".
Last Major Revision: Apr 2011
Cornelia Fort Timeline
|21 Mar 1943||Cornelia Fort was killed during an aircraft ferrying mission in Texas, United States.|
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18 Dec 2011 07:00:46 PM
Cornelia learned to fly in Nashville while her father lay dying in the hospital. She was the second woman in Tennessee to get her commercial pilot's license and the first woman to get her instructor's rating. While teaching at Fort Collins, Colorado she got a letter from Hawaii offering her a job there teaching. The family was told by Nancy Love at the funeral that the lead pilot had done a barrel roll and had dished out and his landing gear struck her canopy knocking her unconscious. This is not consistent with the official report. Somewhere I read that the lead pilot did not realize his landing gear was damaged until after he landed. More pilots died from landing accidents during WWII than in combat.