Vivian Eddy

In 1944, Vivian Cadman Eddy turned 23, and already qualified to fly seventeen different models of airplanes, including the hottest military fighter plane of that time, the famous P-51 Mustang.

Born, raised, and schooled in Fullerton, California, Vivian harbored an adventurous spirit. As a sophomore at Fullerton Junior College she signed up for a government sponsored flight training program, CPT, or Civilian Pilot Training where she trained as the only girl among forty-eight boys. For five months, she underwent an intensive period of ground training and flight instruction. Then, in 1941, nineteen- year- old Vivian was issued a pilot’s license. Oddly, she was able to fly before she could drive. She did not yet have a driver’s license.

After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. military realized an extreme pilot shortage, and experimented in training civilian women pilots in military aircraft. This was 1942. The plan hoped to release men for active duty while women took on the necessary domestic flying. These WASPS, Women Air Force Service Pilots, served under the direction of the famous aviatrix, Jackie Cochran.

Immediately after her training, Vivian was assigned to a ferry group at Love Field, Dallas, Texas where her first orders were ferrying BT-9s, an obsolete trainer considered dangerous, for the junkyard. Male pilots refused to fly the derelicts, so the WASPS were assigned the job.

After performing her first assignment successfully, Vivian went on to ferry numerous single and twin engine planes from the factories to the training schools across the country alone.

After 500 hours she was chosen to train in fighter planes of that day, P-47, P-39, P-40, and the P-51. Admittedly, the highlight was delivering those P-51s fresh from their Los Angeles factory across the country to Newark, New Jersey where they would then be prepared for shipment to England.

On December 20, 1944, Eddy’s military service reached a halt. A bill to militarize the WASPS was defeated in congress. All the women were to return home at their own expense. Thirty-four years passed before the WASPS were recognized for their contribution to the war effort. In 1978, Congress enacted a law making them veterans.