10 year-old Alex had been on a search mission for her best friend Abby. She finally spotted her walking down a tree-lined street and put on a burst of speed to intercept her, picturing herself at the controls of a jet as usual. She planned to go to the U.S. Air Force Academy when she got older, to train as a pilot. She also planned to have Abby attend the Academy, though Abby balked at becoming a pilot. They were still negotiating over possible career paths for Abby, but Alex was confident that it would all work out. "Abby! Where are you going?" she yelled as she got closer.
"I'm going to Miss Lanier's house, to look at more of her picture albums," Abby explained, not surprised when Alex's lip curled: such an activity was much too tame for her. "And maybe she'll have made some cookies," Abby tossed out to sweeten the prospect.
Alex frowned thoughtfully. Miss Lanier's cookies were worth a great deal of suffering otherwise. And she could always strengthen her stamina for withstanding enemy interrogation by putting up with looking through old pictures, she pointed out to herself. Besides, Abby was looking hopefully at her, and it was difficult to resist her puppy-dog green eyes. "Ok," she decided.
Not much later, Alex yawned, on the verge of death by boredom. A new picture caught her eye as Abby turned the page, however, and she leaned forward with interest. "Hey - that's a B-17 Flying Fortress!" She peered at the picture and saw four women carrying old-fashioned parachutes walking towards the camera. "Who are they?" she asked.
"Ah - they were Women's Air Service Pilots," Violet Lanier explained. "During WW II they transported planes from factories to air bases, to free men up to fly planes in battle."
Alex looked perplexed. "Why didn't the women just fight?"
"They weren't allowed to. They weren't even considered part of the military and didn't get any military benefits."
Alex now looked outraged, blue eyes narrowed with indignation. "That's not fair!"
"No, it wasn't," Violet agreed. "But that's how things were back then."
"Why do you have that picture?" Abby asked. "Weren't you a nurse?"
"The woman on the right - the shortest one - was my Willie, Miss Duncan," explained Violet. "We met after she was injured in a crash and was brought to the hospital where I worked. Fortunately, she recovered and returned to flying."
"Then what happened?" asked Abby, interested in a story as always.
"Well, I continued nursing, and after the war Willie started her cargo plane business. She couldn't get hired by the airlines as a pilot, because the men returning from the war got all those jobs. It worked out well in the end though, and we've had a very happy life together," Violet finished.
"Huh," Alex mused. She'd always revered Miss Duncan because she'd been a pilot, but knowing that she'd had to put up with so much made her respect her even more.