Middle American Aviatrix

Taking Flight: The Nadine Ramsey Story; by Raquel Ramsey and Tricia Aurand; University Press of Kansas, 2020; 312 pp., $29.95


Taking Flight tells the remarkable tale of a courageous woman, Nadine Ramsey, who survived a difficult childhood to become Kansas’ first female commercial pilot, a World War II WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot), an instructor of male fighter pilots, and a crusader for WASP veteran status. Her story should serve as an inspiration to all, especially to those who come from less-than-ideal circumstances and face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Ramsey’s story demonstrates what pluck, perseverance, and an indomitable spirit can do.

Nadine was born to Claude and Nelle Ramsey in Illinois in 1911. A second daughter was born two years later, but as a toddler the younger girl pulled a pot of boiling water onto herself and died of the burns. The family was devastated. A boy, Ed, arrived in 1917, and Nadine immediately attached herself to her little brother. They would remain close for the rest of their lives.

Claude was from a farming family, but he left the farm to work in oil fields, first in Carlyle, Illinois, where the Ramsey children were born, and then in El Dorado, Kansas.  When the oil boom began to decline in El Dorado, Claude was off to new strikes in Oklahoma and Texas, leaving the family behind in a wood...

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