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Natalya Fyodorovna Meklin (born Kravtsova) -1922–2005 - was a much decorated World War II combat pilot in one of the three women-only Soviet air regiments. They were nicknamed the 'Night Witches' by their German opponents. Born in the Ukraine, in 1940 she joined the glider school at the Kiev Young Pioneer Palace. In 1942 when she was 19, she joined the Night Witches, piloting a Polikarpov Po-2 light bomber, and by the end of the war had flown 980 night missions.
Lillian Yonally, who was 17 when war broke out, joined the WASPS and trained at the Sweetwater Army Field in Texas flying B25 bombers. She served in the seventh class of the Women’s Flying Training Detachment in which women pilots lead training exercises for male pilots including aircraft tracking both during the night and at high altitude, along with acting as targets for combat training. 38 WASPS were killed during WWII.
German fighter pilot, Franz Stigler, and American bomber pilot, Charlie Brown, who met in the air on December 20, 1943. The badly damaged B-17 was a straggler, alone when Stigler came upon it in his Messerschmitt. Instead of shooting it down, Stigler escorted the defenseless bomber past German flak batteries to the North Sea, where he saluted Brown before turning back. Brown managed to nurse the crippled bomber back to safety. They met in 1990 and were friends until both died in 2008.
Nadezhda Popova was a Russian female pilot during WWII. The German military called her one of the "Nachthexen", or "Night Witches" She flew 852 decoy missions in a canvas winged plane. Dropped food and medicine to Russian marines trapped on the beach at Malaya Zemlya. She had to fly so low that she heard their cheers. After the mission, she found 42 bullet holes in her plane.She died on July 8, 2013 at the age of 91
Elizaveta Fedorovna (Elizabeth Romanova), a German princess in 1880’s-90’s Russia, where she married the fifth son of Tsar Alexander II. She was said to be the most beautiful woman in Europe. Her husband was killed by a bomb in 1905. A champion of the poor, she became a nun after her husband's murder. Arrested and buried alive 1918 by the Red Army. Canonized in 1981.
Cornelia Fort, 1941. Fort was a civilian instructor pilot at an airfield near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. She was killed on March 21, 1943 while ferrying BT-13 trainers in Texas, making her the first American woman to die on active military duty. She is pictured here with a PT-19A. Photo courtesy of the US Air Force.
Hiuaz Kairovna Dospanova (1922-2008), the only female pilot and navigator from Kazakhstan to serve during the Second World War. Dospanova made more than 300 combat missions and was seriously injured in April 1943 while making a landing in blackout conditions; she survived the crash but fractured both legs. Three months later, she returned to the regiment to continue fighting, going all the way to Berlin for the victory.
James Gray was born Hannah Snell in 1723. After her baby died, her husband deserted her. She began dressing as a man, tracking down her husband who had been executed for murder. So she joined the Royal Marines, and was sent to battle twice. After, she told her story to the newspapers and was granted a military pension. She opened a pub called "The Female Warrior," remarried and had two children.