Cornelia Fort


Cornelia Clark Fort (Feb 5, 1919–Mar 21 1943) was an aviator in the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) later called Women Airforce Service Pilots, who became the first female pilot in American history to die on active duty. Fort was born to a wealthy and prominent Nashville, Tennessee, family; her father, Rufus Elijah Fort, was a founder of National Life and Accident Insurance Company. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1939. After college, Fort would join the Junior League of Nashville. She showed an early interest in flying, ultimately training for and earning her pilot's license in Hawaii. While working as a civilian pilot instructor at Pearl Harbor, Cornelia Fort inadvertently became one of the first witnesses to the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II. On December 7, 1941, Fort was in the air near Pearl Harbor teaching takeoffs and landings to a student pilot in an Interstate Cadet monoplane. Hers and a few other civilian aircraft were the only U.S. planes in the air near the harbor at that time. Fort saw a military airplane flying directly toward her and swiftly grabbed the controls from her student to pull up  ( Wikipedia article )


Personal facts

Date of birth


Institution From To
Sarah Lawrence College


Date of death

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