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Pioneer WWII female pilot Maxine Flournoy has died

Posted at 3:35 PM, Apr 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-10 23:33:09-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Maxine Flournoy, an aerial pioneer who joined the U.S. military after WWII broke out and was accepted in the female-only WASP (Women Air Force Service Pilot) program, died Wednesday, April 5 at the age of 102.

Flournoy, born Maxine Edmonson in Joplin, Missouri, had her eyes set on the skies at an early age. She attended Joplin Junior College in 1941 and received her pilots license. Soon after the United States entered World War II, she joined the military and trained at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas.

She was eventually stationed just west of San Antonio at Hondo Army Navigation School. Only 1,100 of the 25,000 candidates for the WASP program were selected, Flournoy included.

While the male pilots went off to fight the war, Flournoy and other WASP members flew military planes from U.S. factories to home military bases. Flournoy also conducted a stateside historic mission along the Gulf Coast as well.

"She mapped out the coastline so the pilots would know where was the safe zone to go and how far out they could go to be in the Gulf of Mexico and things like that," 3rd Coast Museum spokesperson Nancy Pogue-Allen said.

Later in life, she and other WASP members were recognized for their military service and awarded the Congressional Gold Metal.

"They knew as a group that they accomplished the mission that was assigned to them with flying colors, because it ended up they could fly every military aircraft at the time," Betty Fields, one of Flournoy's three daughters said.

She remembered her mother as determined, yet loving.

After the WASP group disbanded in 1944, Flournoy moved to Alice, Texas and took a job as a corporate pilot. That's where she met her future husband, Lucien, whom she started Flournoy Drilling Company, an oil drilling business and a family with.

Throughout the years, Flournoy remained active as a member of the Texas Historical Commission, She was also appointed by former president Jimmy Carter to the World USO Board of Directors.

"She loved our military. and she was always there no matter what," Pogue-Allen said.

Flournoy also loved flying her family around to events, including trips to WASP reunions.

"We went to a lot of them (reunions)," Fields said. "The kids all knew each other. We were called WASP kids."

In Aransas Pass, she founded the 3rd Coast Squadron Commemorative Air Force and Museum. It's named in her honor.

Funeral arrangements are set. Visitation will begin at 1:00 pm followed by a funeral service at 2:00 p.m. Monday, April 10, 2023 at First Presbyterian Church, located at 430 S. Carancahua St., Corpus Christi, Texas 78401. A private burial will be on Wednesday April 12, 2023.

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