Matthew Hall

Daily Press Editor

This weekend organizers of an event at the Santa Monica Museum of Flying are offering locals rare a chance to hear from a diverse group of female military pilots as The Greatest Generation Meets The Next Generation.

The panel discussion will include five Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) who were part of the 1,000 strong contingent that flew all kinds of planes during WWII (Beverly Beesemyer, Edna Davis, Shirley Kruse, Alyce Rohrer, and Millie Young).

Those veterans will interact with a retired Navy helicopter pilot (Lori Dolan), an active duty fighter/bomber pilot with the USAF (Tammy Barlette), a USAF reserve instructor pilot (Maura George) and an active duty Marine helicopter pilot (Jacquelyne Nichols).

Karen Fine Brash, the first female pilot in her combat deployable carrier squadron, will moderate the panel.

According to event organizers, this event is part of a cross-country effort by The Red Door Films and FlyGirls the series, to shed light on an important chapter of U.S. History.

The WASPs will share their experiences as the first group of women to fly for the U.S. Armed Services, giving the audience a unique window into the origins of women pilots in the U.S. Military.

Flygirls is a dramatic series currently in development by Matia Karrell and she said the series, panel discussions and an upcoming documentary were all inspired by her desire to educate Americans about the brave women who have often been left out of traditional WWII stories.

“The Red Door Films has travelled the country and interviewed 16 WASP,” she said.

“The original purpose was to showcase interviews at the end of every episode, as well as inspire the writers and actresses with real stories from these living legends.

While filming their most recent Homecoming event over Memorial Day weekend, at which 11 WASP were in attendance, we realized that we need to get their stories into schools so that young boys and girls will grow up knowing about our WWII female military aviators and their contribution to the war effort, and to aviation.

Our documentary, Coming Home – Celebrating the Women Airforce Service Pilots in 2017, is intended to be an educational documentary that can be shown in schools, museums, and at aviation events around the country.

Coming Home is a stirring celebration of America’s first female military pilots, the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Time has lent these women, most of whom are in their mid to late 90s, a perspective of their past unequalled in its significance on women’s history.”

She said bringing the women on tour is a way to put their stories front and center after decades of neglect. Karrell said it took 33 years for the women to gain Veteran status, 66 years to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor and more than 70 years after ending their mission, they are still largely absent from text books.

“Our panel members are traveling thousands of miles, at the ages of 95 and above, to show people who they are in the flesh, that they existed, and served our country proudly, with honor, when our country needed them. When our country had a shortage of pilots and was woefully unprepared for a war against the German military machine,” she said.

“There is something very unique about seeing our WWII female military aviators in person. They are from a different era, they have different sensibilities, they use different vocabulary than we use, and they have an inner strength that is difficult to describe. It evokes inspiration.

It is moving to be in their presence, and our audience members are often moved to tears just being in their presence.”

The discussion will take place on Sunday, Nov. 12 at the Museum of Flying from 3 – 4 p.m. Following the panel will be a meet and greet with the WASP, with book signings and photo opportunities.

Both the Santa Monica Museum of Flying and the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel are presenting sponsors along with Lunetta Cafe in Santa Monica.

“The Museum of Flying is pleased to partner with Red Door Films on this project”, says Dan Ryan, Managing Director for the Museum of Flying. “The WASP’s were instrumental in supporting the final efforts of the United States and our allies during this historic conflict.

By ferrying the military aircraft and flying them to various locations, they freed up more pilots to enter the war effort that ultimately led to an allied victory.”

Tickets are $25 and available at To learn more or to get involved with the project, visit

The Greatest Generation Meets The Next Generation
Sunday, November 12
The Museum of Flying, 3100 Airport Ave.
3 – 4 p.m. Panel Discussion
4 – 5 p.m. Book Signing
$25 per ticket