Betty Jane "BJ" Williams

Year Inducted: 
2006

Betty Jane "BJ" Williams has been actively involved in practically every phase of aviation, missiles and space for more than 60 years. She received her pilot's certificate in June 1941 through the Civilian Pilot Training Program. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, BJ became an airline stewardess with Canadian Colonial Airlines aboard a Douglas DC-3. Six months later she was selected to train as a Link Trainer Instructor and taught military pilots the art of navigation.

In 1944, she entered the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) pilot training program, and was assigned as an engineering test pilot at Randolph Field, San Antonio, Texas, flight-testing advanced trainers and the P-40 fighter aircraft. The WASP were deactivated on December 20, 1944.

In 1947, BJ convinced CBS-TV to telecast her program "Let's Go Flying." She created and produced the first TV network aviation show transmitted by coax cable from New York City to Boston, Massachusetts. One of BJ's greatest challenges was teaching a deaf-mute boy to fly.

In 1948, BJ was hired as a technical writer with North American Aviation, a manufacturer of many tactical aircraft, including the B-45 bomber and F-86 fighter. Her creative film techniques saved many a pilot's life, attested to by wires and letters from the military at the Korean War front.

BJ was called to active duty during the Korean War and assigned to the 1354th Video Production Squadron, for which she was one of two women and 98 men to be selected worldwide. She served the military for 28 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1979. BJ was a film writer, director, and producer for Lockheed for 20 years, covering early designs of missile systems, tactical aircraft such as the P-3 and F-104, and commercial aircraft such as the L-1011.

BJ was one of the initial organizers of the post-war Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) national organization, where she served in several leadership roles over the years. BJ died in 2008.

 

Benefits of a WAI Membership

WAI members seek to inspire and stand for encouragement, continued education, and a whole lot of fun! If you’re a lover of all things aviation and aerospace, and enjoy sharing your passion with others, we’d love to have you! Membership includes job search opportunities, scholarship opportunities, access to mentors in your industry, and much more.

Become a Member