Flight Pay

WAVES typically didn’t get flight pay, or extra money for serving aboard an aircraft. But Jean Clark did receive some extra training so that she could get the flight pay, as seen in this copy of her certification.

The officer at Lake Washington NAS thought that Jean deserved the extra money. But that meant that she had to fly sometimes. One flight was particularly memorable:

One time he said, “We’re going out. You might want to go.” I said, “OK.”  We’re going to deliver a captain to a flatop. That means we’re taking the captain back to the aircraft carrier.  He says, “They’re out there off the coast,” he said, but he says, “It’s top secret. So you have to keep still about it.”  So we took the captain out to the carrier.  Off the coast of Seattle. It was a rough rough sea. The waves were coming in like crazy.  You might think that landing on water is a soft landing?  It’s like landing on a pile of rocks if you hit water. And it’s bumpy. So we hit down and they put down a small boat from the aircraft carrier to come out and get the captain. They captain came out on the pontoon of the little widgen waiting to get picked off as they came by. They made several swipes. The commander says to me, “You know, they better get him pretty soon. Those waves  are getting pretty high. We may not get out of here.”  I thought “Oop, well, this is it.”  It did look pretty dangerous. Pretty soon, they did grab him and get him off and take him back. The commander says, “Hold on!” And here was this big wave coming towards us.  I mean, big. So he, I could see us heading right into that wave, and we went right into it and right through it and on and we’re airborne.  He says, “Well!  We made it!”  (laughs)  That was the most exciting thing that happened to me when I was in the Navy.

The certification comes from the collection of Jean Clark.

Link Job Description

Link Trainer Instructors also got a “ratings description” booklet which told them of the details of the job.  Jean Clark’s booklet has her name typed on the front cover.

One of the things they trained pilots was in a skill known as a “square search”:

The go up in the air, some of these 90 day wonders (officers trained in 90 days), they’re flying around on a flight, wherever they’re going and they come back. They can see the field and make a landing. OK. Another day they go out and they go out and it fogged in.  They can’t see the field.  And they can really get into trouble. So we had to teach them what they call the square search. Where they were to fly in a direction for one minute and make a turn and fly, a left turn and fly in another direction until they could finally spot the field.  If they were lost in the fog and didn’t know where they were and were coming down and didn’t see it. That was mainly extra protection to keep them from flying into a mountain.

This booklet comes from the collection of Jean Clark.

Getting the News

The Navy put out newsletters to keep the WAVES up to date. The newsletters at first started out quite simple – just a copied sheet or two of paper with a few sketches – but ultimately the publications became quite polished, featuring in-depth articles, photographs and even comics.

This newsletter was published in January of 1945. It was a national publication that was designed to go out to all WAVES regardless of where they served. The photo on a cover shows a WAVE working with sailors who are learning how to use pressurized masks for high-altitude flying.

The national newsletter focused on news of interest to any WAVE. But individual bases also put out newsletters, with location-specific information.

This newsletter is held in the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

The Duties of a Servicewoman

At radio school in Madison, Wis., Helen learned Morse code and did communications work during the first part of the war.  She and the other girls in the office would receive 24-hour news through the teletype machine and they were responsible to hand out a printed version and pass along any important information.  They also communicated to other bases through code and operated telephone banks.

In November of 1943, Helen began working at the Air Traffic Control on the main base in Corpus Christi.  There she worked with pilots, giving weather conditions, keeping track of flights and controlling the flow of air traffic.  SNJ planes were used for training during World War II and Helen’s first airplane ride was on one of these small aircraft.  Pictured below are two Navy WAVES washing an SNJ training plane in Florida.

(U.S. Navy Photograph)

Helen and her husband, Chuck, who was a pilot, later bought their own SNJ plane. They are pictured below riding in the plane over Palm Springs, Calif.