Hazel Lee file photo [12221]

Hazel Lee

Given NameHazel
Born24 Aug 1912
Died25 Nov 1944
CountryUnited States


ww2dbaseHazel Ying Lee (Li Yueying) was born in Portland, Oregon, United States to a ethnically-Chinese merchant into a family of eight children. After graduating from high school, she worked as an elevator operator at Liebes Department Store in downtown Portland. She became interested in flight after taking her first airplane ride in 1932. She joined the Chinese Flying Club of Portland and took lessons from aviator Al Greenwood, earning a pilot's license in Oct 1932. In 1933, she traveled to China with the intention of joining the Chinese Air Force, only to be met with disappointment as the Chinese Air Force did not accept female pilots. Remaining in China, she worked as a pilot for a private airline based in Guangzhou in southern China. In Jul 1937, the Second Sino-Japanese War officially began, and she tried to join the Chinese Air Force a second time, and was once again rejected due to her gender. She returned to the United States in 1938 via Hong Kong. Living in New York, United States, she worked for the Chinese government as a buyer of war materials.

ww2dbaseIn 1943, the United States Army started the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program, and Lee enrolled in training class 43-W-4, becoming the first Chinese-American woman to fly for the US Army. Based in Romulus, Michigan, United States, she ferried aircraft from factories to military bases. In Sep 1944, she attended the Pursuit School at Brownsville, Texas, United States, graduating with Class 44-18 Flight B and obtaining the qualifications to fly fighter aircraft. In Nov 1944, while ferrying a P-63 Kingcobra fighter from Niagara Falls, New York, United States to Great Falls, Montana, United States. A little after 1400 hours on 23 Nov, she collided with another P-63 aircraft immediately after landing at Great Falls. She was rescued from the flaming wreckage with serious burns. She passed away from her wounds two days later. Lee now rests at the River View Cemetery in Portland, next to her brother Victor who was killed in France in US Army uniform also in Nov 1944.

ww2dbaseLee was the last of the 38 to die on duty while serving in the WASP program.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Apr 2011


Hazel Lee posing with a biplane, United States, circa 1930sPilots Hazel Ying Lee and Virginia Wong, circa 1932Hazel Ying Lee at an air show in Shanghai, China, 24 Sep 1936; note Shanghai mayor Wu Tiecheng behind LeeHazel Lee in WASP service, 1943-1944
See all 6 photographs of Hazel Lee

Hazel Lee Timeline

24 Aug 1912 Hazel Lee was born in Portland, Oregon, United States.
10 Nov 1944 Hazel Lee was ordered to go to the Bell Aircraft factory at Niagara Falls, New York, United States to ferry a P-63 Kingcobra fighter to Great Falls, Montana, United States.
23 Nov 1944 Hazel Lee took off from Fargo, North Dakota, United States with a P-63 Kingcobra fighter, landing at Great Falls, Montana, United States shortly after 1400 hours. On the ground, her aircraft collided with another aircraft, causing serious burns.
25 Nov 1944 Hazel Lee died from the wounds received during the landing accident two days prior.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. YY says:
11 Nov 2013 05:14:50 AM

What a pity !
2. Anonymous says:
5 Jan 2015 08:17:44 AM

It is so sad that she died.
3. randy custer says:
7 Feb 2015 02:31:11 PM

great storie of the human spearit to do what hezel
Lee did is a wonderful thing a true pioneer and a
hero that makes me weep.my tears are of gratatude
and sadness and glee.this woman against all odds.
heart warming storie of the indomitable human spearit.thank you Hazel Lee

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Hazel Lee Photo Gallery
Hazel Lee posing with a biplane, United States, circa 1930s
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