“Women Can’t Fly”, A Video Interview with WASP Florence “Shutsy” Reynolds

Kara recalls: "On a side note, this was one of the best days of my life getting to sit down and interview Shutsy. I felt kinda bad for keeping her for so long and asking so many questions! But she was very kind and seemed excited to talk with me."
Kara recalls: "On a side note, this was one of the best days of my life getting to sit down and interview Shutsy. I felt kinda bad for keeping her for so long and asking so many questions! But she was very kind and seemed excited to talk with me."
Kara recalls: “On a side note, this was one of the best days of my life getting to sit down and interview Shutsy. I felt kinda bad for keeping her for so long and asking so many questions! But she was very kind and seemed excited to talk with me.”

Here is another clip from our friends Adam and Kara of The Restorers.

Kara explains: “Being a producer for “The Restorers” (along with our Director Adam White) allows us the opportunity to pick the stories that we feel will be great ways to share historical subjects about aviation. With this power, comes great responsibility. Being a woman and really interested in aviation and WWII history, I feel that there are certain stories that are a bit neglected. The stories of battle and the heroics of men are often covered, while those that helped fight the good fight on the home front are often a side note. Most often we hear about Rosie the Riveter, who were an amazing group of women as well, but the women that I am always inspired by are the Women Air Service Pilots (WASP).

Ferry pilot Florene Watson, WAF, warms up her P-51 (Courtesy: USAF via Wilipedia)
Ferry pilot Florene Watson, WAF, warms up her P-51 (Courtesy: USAF via Wilipedia)

The WASP flew every type of plane for the Army Air Corps from fighters to bombers. They transported planes, towed targets for live ammunition training, they were test pilots, and even did top secret transport for the atomic bomb project. All without having military benefits. When a WASP was killed, there was no insurance money for the family, and the other WASP would take up a collection to pay for the body to be shipped home. They are amazing women who had to fight to receive the same benefits as men did, and I could write about their spirited personalities all day.

Once we decided that we were going to make this TV series, I knew there was one story that needed to be told. I had heard about Mike Porter’s restored Stearman that served at Avenger Field, where the WASP had their training. And I knew I wanted to share that with our audiences. One of the goals of our show is to bring history to those who don’t know about it. We want more people to get into aviation history. Outside of the airplane community, most people don’t know about this stuff. And I feel that there are lots of stories that need to be heard. This just happens to be one of my favorites.

Since I wanted to do this story, we had to come up with an episode theme for the rest of the stories that would fall within the hour of programming. So we are doing an episode about those who are restoring planes to help tell the story of women pilots in history. As a women, I find their stories some of the most inspiring. They had to push back against what was deemed something that men did, and fight just to have the ability to fly. They had their unjust struggles to deal with, simply because they were women. And their stories are things that are rarely told in our media. To honor these great women, we wanted to tell their stories.

This is one of our web videos that we wanted to put out there to promote The Restorers and the WASP. The video is WASP Florence “Shutsy” Reynolds talking to us about growing up and the attitudes of others about women flying.

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4 Comments

  1. I first met members of the W.A.S.P. back when I was a child, a relative by marriage was related to one of these exceptional women and knew of my “sprouting” love of aviation and flight.

    As a teen I was active in both the Girl Scouts and Civil Air Patrol (as a cadet member) and learned to fly sail planes and guiders. I had the chance to meet and escort at a CAP function several W.A.S.P. there were there to address us. This was during their fight for veteran benefits.

    This was more awesome than any “pop culture” celebrity. These women were trail-breakers, heroines, and role models to aspire to become!

    I had for a time a flight instructor in the Riverside CA area that was in the last class of W.A.S.P. and an active member of the aviation community for decades out of Flabob Airport (KRIR)

    Thank-you for retelling their stories and preserving their memories.

  2. I met Shutsey Reynolds at the air and space museum at Dulles last year. She is an awesome woman and a credit to her gender! I only wish I could have sat and talked to her all day!

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