Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cornelia Fort

  Another locally famous person buried in Mt. Olivet cemetery is Cornelia Fort. Cornelia Fort airport in East Nashville is named after her. She was the daughter of a wealthy doctor who didn't approve of his daughter becoming an aviator. She was born in 1919 and died in 1943. The airport is on the land that once belonged to the Fort family. She became a civilian flight instructor in Hawaii that is depicted in the movie Tora, Tora, Tora, evading Japanese planes flying in to attack Pearl Harbor. In the movie she is portrayed as an elderly woman but in reality was only about 22 yrs old. In real life she nearly collided with a Japanese plane. After landing she was nearly strafed trying to run for cover. Cornelia joined the Wasp's in 1942. The WASPS flew for the Army Air Force transporting military aircraft straight to military bases in the U.S. and overseas from the factories as they came off of the assembly line. They also towed targets to help train male pilots for combat. It was dangerous work. Fort was the first of 38 WASPS killed in the line of duty in 1943. She collided with a male pilot and was not able to bail out in time. WASPS were not considered part of the military and their families were responsible for paying for their burial. 

Cornelia Fort - second from left

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