The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: Bishop (Edna) Papers
Collection Number: M403
Dates: ca. 1941 - 1996
Volume: 1.2 cu. ft.
Mrs. Edna “Kitty” Hines Bishop of Hattiesburg served as a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) in World War II. She recalls that she first became interested in flying when she was six-years-old and a plane landed in the pasture behind her parents’ house in Oklahoma. She knew then that she wanted to be a pilot.
As a young woman Bishop took flying lessons in Bishop, California. She saved her money and usually could only afford a fifteen-minute lesson. She was able to fly solo after only seven hours of lessons.
She learned about the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) while waiting for a job interview with a shipbuilding business in Terminal Island, California. The woman sitting next to her in the waiting room was reading a newspaper about the newly organized WASPs in Phoenix, Arizona. Bishop made up her mind and drove to Phoenix, where she acquired the 200 minimum hours of flight experience to join the WASPs.
Jacqueline Cochran organized the WASPs in 1942. Cochran and General H.H. “Hap” Arnold felt that the skills of the many licensed women pilots in the United States should be utilized in the war effort. The mission of the WASP corps when it was first conceived was to free male pilots from stateside flying duties so they could fly combat missions overseas. The WASPs served as test pilots, flew aircraft from the factories where they were built to the airfields where they were needed, towed the targets used in anti-aircraft training, and trained male combat pilots. There was no type of aircraft that the WASPs did not fly. Bishop flew SB2C Helldivers, B-17s, B-24s, P-47s, AT-6s, BT-13s, and other planes. She flew frequently out of Long Beach, California up the Pacific Coast to fields in Washington and Oregon, and over the Rocky Mountains to Colorado and Nevada. The WASPs received equal if not better flight training than their male counterparts and were paid the same amount as men, $1200 a year.
The WASPs were deactivated in 1944 and it was not until 1977 that the U.S. Congress recognized the WASPs military contributions to World War II and granted them veteran status and benefits.
In 1944, Bishop was at Liberty Field in Hinesville, Georgia. It was there that she met her husband, James, who was also a pilot. They were married in December 1944 and had four children together.
Bishop and her husband came to Hattiesburg because James was working in the Advertising Department of the Hattiesburg American newspaper. He also taught advertising in the Journalism Department at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Bishop returned to college after her youngest daughter entered fifth grade, and earned a master’s degree in psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. She then worked in public schools for many years as a psychometrist.
This collection consists of information on Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of World War II. The materials include flight maps, training manuals and other materials that relate to Edna Bishop’s World War II service. The collection also has materials such as issues of “Stars and Stripes”, newspaper clippings, newsletters, and documents pertaining to the Women Military Pilots Association. Of particular interest is a U.S. Navy booklet entitled “Parachute Sense,” which uses humor and cartoons to convey instructions and regulations about how to use a parachute. For example, the booklet advises that while “a long, tender farewell” of the aircraft “may mark you as a kindly, sensitive human being, it will mark you as a blithering idiot if you employ it when you’re leaving your plane.”
Box and Folder List
Folder 13 Women Military
Pilots Association: Booklets (1983, 1985, undated)