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Gone West - Jean Downey Harman, WASP, 44-W-9

Menlo Park, CA (February 3, 2023) - The WASP community mourns the loss of Jean Downey Harman, 44-W-9, who went west on January 21, 2023.

At 7 years old, Harman took a flight at Douglas Airfield in West Los Angeles. She was hooked on aviation for life, but being raised in the city of San Francisco, she was only able to dream about flying until she went to the College of the Pacific, at age 16. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, all civilian flying was curtailed within 300 miles of the coast. The Civilian Pilot Training program, one of Harman’s college courses, continued the aviation ground school but the airplanes were moved to Nevada. She finished her AA in 1943 and moved to Nevada where she got her private pilot license with the help of her stepfather who financed her training, while keeping it a secret from Harmon's mom. When she reached the eligible age of 18, she immediately applied for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program.

Accepted WASP entrants were already pilots, but the Army Air Force wanted them to fly the military way. Anyone accepted was required to go through the same flight training as the incoming inexperienced males entering pilot training.

According to Harman, men were not satisfied with women doing jobs that, until then, only men had done. “The men did not like it at all, the idea was that women did not belong in a man’s job. The pilots were heroes, and big shots and women did not belong there, so it was very difficult.” Despite this resistance from men, Harman said she would do it again in a heartbeat.

Read Jean Downey Harman's full profile here https://cafriseabove.org/jean-downey-harman/.

Hear Harman tell some of her amazing stories about her time serving in the Women Airforce Service Pilots in this 2010 interview: 

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