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Jeannette Gagnon Goodrum '41, Congressional Gold Medal winner
The untold portion of the history of Jeannette Goodrum's flying experience/lessons as remembered by her college roommate, Dot Phillips.

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As an undergraduate student (class of 1941) at the University of New Hampshire, this is an account of Jeannette Gagnon Goodrum's early experiences in her flying career.

This account comes about because of the belated awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to the women who served as Women Airforce Service Pilots during WWII.

Because it was not possible for me to attend the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., I felt compelled to relate my memories of my involvement with Jan or as they say, "the rest of the story."

In 1941, there were twenty students accepted into the first Civil Aeronautics or CAA class at the University of New Hampshire. 20/20 vision was the first requirement, so I was unable to apply. Of the twenty who were accepted, eighteen were male and two were female, Jan being one of them.

The other female was dropped from the program early on due to the fact that during her attempt to start the plane, she nosed dived it into the ground while hand spinning the prop, leaving Jan as the only female candidate.

During our college years, I was fortunate to have a car on campus, which in those days was quite unusual but my father wanted me to be able to come home on weekends and he was unable to leave his business to come after me. Therefore, my involvement consisted of driving Jan back and forth to the small, dirt runway near Durham, N.H. where Jan and her eighteen fellow male candidates had their flying lessons. My only requirement for doing this was the payment of five cents each way to pay for gas!

Jan's instructor was a classic, "tobacco chewing, old codger" named Andy Purington. In spite of his demeanor and appearance, Andy was a capable instructor and interested in his students.

After the required hours of instruction and flying lessons, part of the final test was a solo fight on a designated, triangular course. At each landing point on the triangle, the student pilot landed and gassed up the plane, using the signed gas slip as "proof" of landing. When Jan returned and gleefully handed Andy the signed gas slips, Andy spouted "where in the hell have you been?!" Jan had apparently missed her designated landing/fueling targets, even though she had in fact flown a triangular course! However, even with that, Andy thought her to be a competent pilot and awarded Jan her pilot's license.

With full confidence in the newly licensed pilot, I was her first passenger and to this day I remember the enjoyment of that first flight we took together.

The one female and eighteen members of that first CAA class celebrated a very happy time with their instructor at that little old dirt runway - wooden shack for a hanger, outside of Durham, N.H. As I had transported Jan back and forth to her lessons, I became a proud, honorary member of the group!

As a result of Jan's service and dedication to our country as a "WASP" during WWII, she and her fellow female pilots were honored at the U.S. Capitol on March 10, 2010 receiving the Congressional Gold Medal.

As I was not in a position to attend, I was happy that my daughter and son-in-law could be there to represent me and see Jan. The photos and television reports on the event made up for my not attending.

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