J. Miller (Maiden name, as in ATA) Stratford.
Learned at Oakland Airport, CA. 1939-40. CPT program under University
of California at Berkeley. Commercial License and Instructor rating
in1941 in Los Angeles, CA area. Taught CPT 1941-42 L.A. area and Bishop,
"Heard" about ATA at airport Los Angeles, CA area; referred
to Polly Potter who told me about ATA program (she herself had volunteered).
Interviewed by Jackie Cochran late January or early Feb. 1942 and accepted
in 5th group (of 6).
To Dorval Airport (Montreal, Canada) via train from Los Angeles late
June, 1942. Checkout in July by Harry Smith, an American in the ATA,
in AT-6 Harvard, a "big" plane at that time. I was only one
(of about 5-6) to ship out to England, along with Opal Anderson, who
had qualified in previous group. Later on, found out Bobbie Leveaux
had qualified in my group, was delayed because of illness, and went
to England with following (6th) group. Voyage to England: Aboard at
Montreal and a week on freighter "Winnipeg II" to Halifax,
picking up materials along the way. Then joined group of ships (convoy)
across Atlantic. Some submarine action but we were o.k. Aboard ship
were about 100 RCAF fighter pilots enroute to fighter squadrons in England.
Some only had 100-300 flight hours! Learned later that the Winnipeg
II was sunk on its return trip to USA.
Arrived Liverpool, date not remembered. Air raid (wailing siren) first
night sent me hiding under bed! No damage to bed, city or me (except
embarrassment, and a faster heartbeat).
Favorite Airplane - Spitfire XI. However all other aircraft interesting,
some just "nicer" than others.
Made 612 deliveries; flew 899 flight hrs. including the short checkouts.
50 types of aircraft flown, of which 35 single-engine and 15 twin-engine,
not including variants (such as17 different variants of the Spitfire).
After initial checkout, posted (stationed) to Hamble (near Southampton),
and then to Prestwick, Scotland, Aston Down (near Bristol) and finished
at White Waltham, HQ of ATA as war winding down in 1945.
Returned by ship, exact date unknown but probably in August or early
September 1945 after war over in Europe and Japan. Edith Foltz Stearns,
Vi Milstead of Canada, and Louise Schuurman (Dutch, but one of the "Cochran
group") returned on same ship.
After war, lucky to find some flight instructing jobs, finally landing
in Corvallis, Oregon. Continued giving flight instruction and ground
school; eventually was check pilot and bookkeeper. Was first woman helicopter
rated pilot on West Coast (1947), second commercially rated woman in
USA, and 4th in free world. Also did agricultural flying in Stearman
450HP for years. In 1960 moved to Juneau, Alaska, working with helicopters
only (Livingston Copters, Inc.), thereby becoming the first woman helicopter
"bush" pilot in Alaska. Company sold in 1977, and stopped
flying in 1978, as my hearing had deteriorated severely due to nerve
damage caused by engine noise. Total about 8500 flight hours in over
100 types of aircraft.
Jobs as above. Marriage to Arlo Livingston, 1956; Arlo deceased 1986.
Married Milton W. Stratford 1991. No children.
6/12/19 - "and after 80 you can wear purple!"