Taking Flight

The Nadine Ramsey Story

Raquel Ramsey and Tricia Aurand

In October 1944 Nadine Ramsey was thirty-three and she was flying the cutting-edge P-51 Mustang to New Jersey, its last stop before heading to the war in Europe. The irrepressible young woman from Wichita had long been determined to fly and the gathering storm clouds of World War II had provided an unexpected opportunity. Taking Flight is the inspiring story of a girl from Depression-era Kansas who overcame tremendous challenges and defied convention to become an elite pilot—one of the few American women to fly fighter aircraft during World War II.

Taking Flight follows Nadine as she became one of 1,102 women to join the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots and one of only 303 WASPs to take to the skies in military cockpits, transporting aircraft to bases across the nation for use in the theaters of war. This book marks her milestones: the first Kansas woman to earn a commercial pilot license; among the earliest women to fly the US Air Mail; one of only 26 WASPs who flew the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, a fighter aircraft—and the first woman to own one; the only woman in the country to instruct male pilots to fly fighter planes after the war. Disbanded in late 1944 to make way for male pilots and barred from piloting for commercial airlines, the WASPs spent the next three decades fighting to win veteran status.

Taking Flight: The Nadine Ramsey Story is more than the tale of her days as a WASP pilot ferrying high-priority army aircraft across the skies of World War II America. It is the heartfelt account of her family and its collective grit, patriotism, and raw courage. This unfolds through her mother’s unfailing enterprise and her decorated war-hero brother’'s heroism. We also learn of Nadine’s painful recovery from an early plane crash, the healing that allowed her to fly as a WASP, and, finally, her battle against the recurring pain in later life. A good read with a ton of great research on woman pioneers in aviation and WASP history to absorb.”

—Sarah Byrn Rickman, author of The Originals: The Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron of World War II and WASP of the Ferry Command: Women Pilots, Uncommon Deeds

“What better way to penetrate a glass ceiling than by piloting an aircraft! Nadine Ramsey’s story would be an inspirational one even without her being a woman. The services provided by her and her 1,101 fellow WASPs, who piloted a wide variety of military aircraft during World War II, are little-known and, for much too long, underappreciated by the nation that reaped the benefits of their skills and sacrifices (thirty-eight of whom gave their lives). Both enlightening and inspirational, Taking Flight is a must-read for anyone who may wonder why Tom Brokaw chose to call Nadine and her fellow veterans ‘the Greatest Generation.’”

—Thomas J. Cutler, Gordon England Chair of Professional Naval Literature, US Naval Institute

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Taking Flight: The Nadine Ramsey Story is a profile in courage of a woman who helped clear the flight path for today’s female combat and commercial aviators.

About the Author

Raquel Ramsey, a retired teacher, is the widow of Nadines brother, Col. Edwin P. Ramsey, a decorated World War II hero, and the executive producer of his documentary, Never Surrender: The Ed Ramsey Story. Tricia Aurand is a screenwriter. Both Ramsey and Aurand live in Los Angeles.