Hazel Ying Lee was the first Chinese-American woman to pilot aircraft for the U.S. military. After taking her first flight in 1932, she fell in love with flying and earned her pilot’s license later that year. Lee moved to China ahead of the Second Sino-Japanese War and sought opportunities to serve her family’s native country. After the Chinese Air Force rejected Lee based on her gender, she worked as a commercial pilot in China.
Upon returning to America at the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Lee became one of only two Asian-American pilots under the Women Airforce Service Pilots program. The program was launched in the wake of World War II, in which female civilian pilots were assigned to noncombat missions within U.S. borders, although they were not considered official members of the military at the time. Because of her prior pilot training, Lee qualified for the Air Transport Command and became one of only 132 women trained to “fly pursuit,” meaning she could captain the faster, more powerful fighters. Lee died in 1944 when her aircraft collided with another on a runway in Great Falls, Montana.
We honor you, Hazel Lee.
(Submission by: Ninzel Rasmuson #Repost @Mic Network Inc)