Gwendolyne Cowart

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Gwendolyne Cowart
A young white woman smiling, from a 1940 newspaper photograph
Cowart in 1940
Gwendolyne Elizabeth Cowart

(1920-04-24)April 24, 1920[1]
DiedFebruary 28, 2003(2003-02-28) (aged 82)[1]
Other namesGwendolyne Cowart Hickerson, Elizabeth Gwendolyne Hickerson
Known forWASP during World War II
AwardsCongressional Gold Medal (2009)

Gwendolyne Cowart (April 24, 1920 – February 28, 2003) was an American pilot who served as a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) during World War II.

Early life[edit]

Gwendolyne Elizabeth Cowart was born in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1920, the daughter of James Monroe Cowart and Louie Leonie Lester Cowart.[2] Her father was a locomotive engineer; her parents were divorced in 1928.[3] She was raised by her mother in Georgia, and as a young woman performed on roller skates in shows.[1] She attended Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, Georgia.[4]


Cowart was "the youngest girl in the South to get a commercial flying license,"[4] and was an officer in Atlanta's Southeastern Aviatrix Association in 1940.[5][6] That year, she made news for landing a plane in a cow pasture after it ran out of fuel.[7]

During World War II, Cowart first served as an assistant instrument instructor for the U.S. Navy at Camp Gordon, before she became a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP).[8] She trained to fly pursuit fighter aircraft at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas,[1] and was assigned to New Castle Army Air Base in Delaware.[9][10] She was a member of the Women's Flight Training Detachment headed by Jacqueline Cochran.[4][11] She ferried P-38s and P-47s across the United States. "You know, you can pick up a nice 350 miles an hour in those ships," she told an interviewer in 1944.[8] Later in life, she worked as an artist for the Corpus Christi Independent School District.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Cowart married fellow pilot James Hickerson. She had a son, Gary Hickerson. She died in 2003, in Houston, Texas, aged 82 years.[1] She was named in the listing of WASPs awarded a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Elizabeth Gwendolyne Hickerson". Corpus Christi Caller-Times. March 8, 2003. Retrieved October 8, 2019 – via Legacy.
  2. ^ "Untitled news item". The Atlanta Constitution. August 12, 1943. p. 15. Retrieved October 8, 2019 – via
  3. ^ "Bigamy Charged in Divorce Suit Against Engineer". The Atlanta Constitution. December 13, 1928. p. 5. Retrieved October 8, 2019 – via
  4. ^ a b c "Four Georgia Girls Get Ferry Pilots' Wings". The Atlanta Constitution. August 12, 1943. p. 6. Retrieved October 8, 2019 – via
  5. ^ McKenzie, Carolyn (August 11, 1940). "Women Pilots Wear Little and Look Good In It". The Atlanta Constitution. p. 12. Retrieved October 8, 2019 – via
  6. ^ "Two Members of Aviatrix Unit Fly to Carnival". The Atlanta Constitution. June 3, 1940. p. 3. Retrieved October 8, 2019 – via
  7. ^ "Girl Descends into Pasture as Gasoline Fails". The Atlanta Constitution. April 17, 1940. p. 2. Retrieved October 8, 2019 – via
  8. ^ a b "Two Ex-WASPs to Continue as Girl Fliers". The Atlanta Constitution. December 24, 1944. p. 4. Retrieved October 8, 2019 – via
  9. ^ "Gwendolyne Cowart". International Women's Air & Space Museum. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  10. ^ "Gwendolyne E. Cowart Hickerson, 43-W-4 Classbook Photograph". Women's Collection, Texas Women's University. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  11. ^ "WWII WASP Graduates". Women Airforce Service Pilots – Remembered By Those who Knew Them. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  12. ^ "Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 155 (2009), Part 11 – Honoring the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II". Retrieved October 8, 2019.

External links[edit]