Jill Sutton McCormick

Picture of Jill McCormick JILL SUTTON McCORMICK, born in Philadelphia March 11, 1916. Professor in the School of Aviation Technology. Professor McCormick, instructor and original organizer of the Professional Pilot Program at Purdue University began flying in 1940.

World War II found Professor McCormick in the experimental Cadets' school, WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). She was accepted into the WASP with 100 hours of cross-country flying. Up until this time, flying cadets had all been men.

WASP training was identical to the men cadet's school except that the women had no combat training. They were to take over domestic flying duties for the men so that more male cadets could be sent overseas for combat duty.

The women graduated from the experimental WASP school and were assigned to either Ferry Command or the Training Command. As one of the 1071 graduates, Professor McCormick was assigned to the Ferry Command (the 2nd Ferrying Group, New Castle, Del.). Her job was to go to aircraft factories and ferry planes throughout the United States and Canada.

In the 22 months that Professor McCormick served in the WASP, she flew 23 military planes. These planes were military training, cargo, and fighter planes. She accumulated 1200 hours of flying time in the 22 months she served in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Her most narrow escape, during her flying with the WASP, was when taking off from Baltimore'Harbor Airport in a single engine - Douglas Dive Bomber. The engine of the plane detonated immediately after take-off and she was forced to ditch the plane in the Chesapeake Bay and swim about 300 yards to shore. In her haste to get away from the plane, she forgot to take off her seat pack parachute which gave her a bit of a handicap for swimming.

Her most frightening moment of this experience came when she realized that she would have to control her body as she was bringing down the plane to keep from hitting a bomb site located right in front of her. This was because she had no shoulder straps. To keep from doing this, she swung her head to the right when she hit the water and hit her face on the instrument panel causing minor abrasions to the side of her face.

After it was confirmed that Professor McCormick had no serious injuries, she was immediately ordered to Norfolk, Va. to pick up the same type of plane that she had just crashed in. Professor McCormick proudly asserts that the accident rate for the women cadets was the same as that of the male cadet. "In other words, we were just as good as the men".

An added note: From time to time, while on active duty, the WASPs were sent to transition schools to upgrade themselves as to aircraft. that they were qualified to Ferry. One of the schools we were sent to was "Pursuit School". Today, it would be known as "Fighter School". There we were checked out in the 5 single engine Pursuits: the P-47 - P.51 - P.39 - P.63 - and P-40.

Being based in New Castle, Del. most of the WASP Squadron was sent to Republic Aviation on Long Island to ferry P-47s or to Republic Aviation in Evansville, IN to ferry P-47s. Jill's hairy experience in a P-47 was when she picked one up in Evansville and ferried it to Newark, N.J. Haflway along the route Jill had a run-a-way prop so had to turn off the electricity. This meant no radio communications and a fixed pitch prop.

Newark was always a mad house 'cause so many planes terminated there. And especially if one arrived from 1630 on. This was just about the time of Jill's arrival. The Tower kept sending Jill a green light when she was on base leg. When she was ready to turn on final a pilot on a long final or straight in approach would cut her off. This kept happening until the fuel warning light came on. Then Jill said "to Hell with the next bum" and proceeded to cut him off! This time it was make it or ditch it and she had just been through that routine.

The fastest Jill ever flew in a Jug was 401mph. Actually she was only indicating 250 mph but must have been in a low jet stream 'cause the distance was 522 miles. She flew this trip with Helen Mary Clark who unfortunately is dead so, now it can't be proved.

List of all p51 Pilots:
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Pilot Name Biography Summary
Asa A. Adair He returned to the States in August of 1944 after participating in the invasion "D" Day. He flew P-63's, P-51's, F-80's, T-33's, F-84's, T-38's, P-47's in numerous assignments during the following twenty years in in, Japan, U.S.A. and Europe before retiring after twenty-six years of Active Duty.
John C. Anderson After P-47 transition he was assigned to the 406th Fighter Group, 512th Fighter Squadron. (E.T .0.) He flew 56 missions through January, 1945 destroying supply routes, bridges, and railroads; he also flew close support missions with the ground forces, with attacks on tanks, artillery and enemy positions.
W.B. 'Tex' Badger Eight and Ninth Air Force in WWII. B-l7's, P-51's and P-47's. Fifth Air Force in Korea, F80's and F86's. WWII and Korea, Flew 156 missions. Tactical units served in with the USAAF and USAF were: 305th BG , 368th Fighter Group, 4th Fighter Group, 49th Fighter Group, 12th Fighter Wing, 506th Fighter Wing.
Robert T. (Bob) Bagby He trained in P47's at Cross City and Dale Mabry Fields, Florida and then joined the 341st FS Black Jack Squadron), 348th FG of the 5th AF in Brisbane, Australia in June 1943. Bob flew 78 combat missions in New Guinea (Port Moresby, Finchafen, Sador, Wakde and Biak) primarily as wingman to squadron CO's John Campbell and John Moore. Also privileged to fly wing to Neil Kirby on several occasions.
Frank Baker After brief stops at Stone and Atcham, England he joined the 313th Fighter Squadron of the 50th Fighter Group in France. He flew 90 missions through V.E. Day. Most of the missions were close support attacks on various ground targets with a few B-26 escort missions thrown in. All of the missions took place in eastern France and southern Germany. He was awarded the Air Medal with 11 oak leaf clusters.
John M. Balason To relieve the boredom, Balason went down on the deck and blew up a locomotive he had observed at altitude. A few seconds after making his strafing pass he received a hit in his left wing tank and a fire started immediately in the cockpit. The paralyzing effect of the intense heat made climbing out of the cockpit impossible.
Albert W. Barlow, Jr. He flew 69 escort and ground support missions. Destroyed one E/A (ME-I09). Was shot down on Sept. 8, 1944, and evaded enemy ground forces for 8 days. Was picked up by an American Recon. Unit behind the German lines. Was hospitalized until Feb. 1948, when he was medically retired with the rank of Capt. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, and Purple Heart.
William T. Beckler In July, 1944 Beckler exchanged his P-40 for a P-47N Thunderbolt. Missions in the Jug covered Northern Italy and Southern France. These included escorting medium bombers. The Bombers, based in Southern Italy, would be escorted to France by Thunderbolts based on Corsica. Shortly before target the Jugs would pull ahead of the bombers and bomb the enemy gun positions. Beckler's activities while participation in three major campaigns earned him the DFC, two Air Medals and two Presidential citations.
Herbert R. Benson After training in P-47 Thunderbolts at bases in North Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware, he was assigned to the European Theatre of operations and joined the 48th Fighter Group 493rd Fighter Squadron at St. Trond, Belgium. After flying 44 combat missions, he was awarded the Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf clusters.
Marvin C. Bigelow Training in the Southeast Training Command with the class of 44C, he graduated and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant single engine pilot at Marianna, Florida with the class of 44D. After checking out in the P-40 at Marianna, he transitioned in the P-47 in the Northeast Defense Command and after gunnery at Dover, Delaware was shipped on the Queen Mary to England.
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