A women cursed by a lifetime of stuttering joins the Women's Air Force Service Pilots in 1943. The first time she solos in a P-51 Mustang her stutter goes away forever. She is the only WASP pilot still missing of 38 who died in action in WWII. Based on a true story.
Synopsis:Gertrude Tompkins is born to an entitled New Jersey family but is inhibited by a serious stutter in her speech. She withdraws from society even as her father seeks many cures for her stutter. Her sisters go to Smith and Wellesley but she chooses the Pennsylvania Horticultural College for Women where she studies goats.
Goats are her life until World War II breaks out and she falls deeply in love with a Royal Air Force Spitfire pilot, who is subsequently killed over Europe.
In honor of her love for this man, in 1943 she volunteers to fly for the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots—the WASPs. One of 25,000 applicants, she is among the 1,100 who complete training. She doesn’t care that the women pilots are discriminated against in terms of pay, insurance and health care. She wants to fly. She has difficulty in pilot training because of the radio procedures, but learns to sing her landing and takeoff requests.
Because of her outstanding flying she is one of 126 WASPs sent to train in high-speed, state-of-the-art fighter planes.
The first time she takes up a P51 Mustang she puts it through its aerobatic paces, rolling it and diving and climbing at more than 400 mph. Exhilarated, she lands her plane as a totally changed woman she realizes she is at last a fully dimensional woman who now knows exactly why she was put on earth—to fly fast airplanes. She feels like she knows who she is for the first time in her life.
Not only that, her stutter is gone forever.
She is assigned to fly P-51s from the plant in Los Angeles to ports in New Jersey, and with other WASPs she puts in grueling hours of flying to keep the planes moving to the men who fly them in combat.
Another suitor pursues her and she accepts him only because of loyalty to her father, who encourages the union. She marries on Sept. 26, 1944, but it is an unhappy match.
On Oct. 26, 1944, she takes off in a P-51 from Los Angeles and is Gertrude Tompkins is never hear from again. Her plane was never found. Of 38 WASPs killed in service during World War II, she is the only one still missing.