PASADENA (CBSLA.com) — A veteran’s son is hoping to raise enough money for a New Year’s Day Rose Parade float honoring female World War II pilots.
Albert “Chig” Lewis said his mother, Dorothy “Dot” Lewis, earned her “silver wings” with WASP: the Women Airforce Service Pilots.
Dorothy trained male pilots and performed domestic operations.
“They flew every advanced aircraft that we had,” Lewis said. “My mother flew the B-26.”
The women aviators, however, were dismissed when male pilots came home from combat; their feats are absent from many history books.
“They lived in the wind and sand … their eyes were on the stars, how they could serve and fly. They loved to fly,” Lewis said.
In September, weeks before Dorothy’s 98th birthday, she passed away in Idyllwild.
Lewis, who spoke to KCAL9’s Serene Branson via Skype from Washington, D.C., is determined to make a float in the name of his mother and the other unsung heroes of the war.
“It fits right into with what happened now with the opening of the services to women based on their capabilities. It’s important that we try to find the good broad reach of media in things like the Rose Parade,” Lewis said.
Although the application for the float was accepted in March, Lewis said the WASP’s nonprofit group, Wingtip-to-Wingtip, is short on funds, as floats cost about $200,000.
“We’ve raised close to half, but we need to have enough to be sure we can pay the builder for his fine work,” Lewis said.
Lewis said if they don’t raise enough money by Veterans Day on Monday, they may have to ground the project. He hopes a corporate sponsor or aircraft company will step in.
“It was a wonderful, wonderful service they did for our nation, and we want everyone to know about it because it’s a part of history we all should be proud of,” he said.
To help fund the float, click here.