Hazel Ying Lee
Hazel Ying Lee, a native of Portland, Oregon, took her first flight in 1932, at the age
of 19. In that same year Hazel received her pilots license at a time when less than 1% of
American pilots were women. Following the Japanese attack on China, Hazel journeyed to China
and volunteered to serve in the Chinese Air Force. Rejected because she was a woman, Hazel
settled in Canton and took a job in commercial aviation. Fleeing before the Japanese
advance to China, Hazel returned to the United States in 1938.
Responding to the call of famed aviator Jacqueline Cochran, Hazel joined the Women Airforce
Service Pilots in 1943. The "WASP" was created in an effort to sustain the war effort and
overcome the shortage of male pilots at home. In 1944, Hazel joined the elite group
of women pilots who went on to fly fighter planes for the United States Army.