Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Traveling Tuesday: Sweetwater, Texas

Traveling Tuesday: Sweetwater, Texas

Located forty miles west of Abilene, Texas and almost “smack-dab” in the center of the state, Sweetwater, Texas became a hub in aviation only eight years after the industry began. According to a paper I found on the University of North Texas website, by the 1920s, the tiny town was regularly visited by many famous aviators. In 1928, seeing potential, local businessmen raised money to construct a municipal airport. Funds came quickly, and the airport was finished and dedicated in August 1929.

In 1940, the town was notified that Sweetwater was being considered for use in the government’s expansion of defense efforts. Receiving nearly $200,000, the town purchased additional acreage and improved the facilities. The first trainees were fifty Canadian cadets headed for England’s RAF. In 1942, over 800 Americans arrived for training and graduated the following year.

Jacqueline Cochran, a world-renowned pilot, had been working for months to create a women’s
National WWII Museum
program similar to that of Britain’s Air Transport Auxiliary. She initially tried to use Hughes Air Field in Houston, but for many reasons was unable to develop a school that met her requirements. Finding Sweetwater, she quickly made arrangements, and by February 1943 Avenger Field was an all-female installation except for a few male instructors and other officers.

Slightly more than eleven square miles, Sweetwater is considered semi-arid, which is to say it’s a dry area, but not as dry as the desert. Average annual rainfall is thirty-five to forty days. Winter average temperatures are in the 60s, and summers are scorching with June, July, and August typically seeing temperatures in the mid- to high-nineties! I would imagine that many of the women who arrived had never experienced this kind of weather.

Thanks to the railroad and airfield, Sweetwater’s population exploded from just over 4,000 in the 1920 census to almost eleven thousand by the 1930 census. The women who arrived came from all walks of life. Some would be disappointed at the “small” size of the town, while others would be overwhelmed by its stretch of land and five-figure population. Of the 25,000 women who applied for flight training, 1,830 were accepted, 1,075 of whom earned their wings, which meant 756 women trudged to the train station and boarded a train for home, leaving the dusty town behind.


Love at First Flight

Can two people emerge from the clouds of past hurt to find a silver lining of love?

Evelyn Reid would rather fly than do anything else, so when war engulfs the U.S., she joins the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. One of the program’s top pilots, she is tapped for pursuit plane training...the dream of a lifetime until she discovers the instructor is her ex-fiancé, Jasper MacPherson.

Collecting enough points to rotate stateside, fighter pilot Jasper MacPherson is assigned to teach the WAFS how to fly the army way. Bad enough to be training women, but things take a turn for the worse when his former fiancée shows up as one of his students.

Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/u/3JoYNX

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