Sarah Byrn Rickman, author of 9 books about the WASP — the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II — has been doubly honored. Rickman has been named the recipient of the 17th Annual Combs-Gates Award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF.) In addition, she is one of several chosen for induction into the International Forest of Friendship, Atchison, Kansas, a memorial to the world history of aviation and aerospace.
The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) awarded Rickman’s two-volume young adult series, WASP Pilots, their 17th Annual Combs-Gates Award and a $20,000 cash prize. She will receive the honor at the National Business Aviation Association’s 72nd annual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (BACE) in Las Vegas, NV on October 22, 2019.
The WASP Pilot series, written for readers age 10 and up, begins with two biographies — Nancy Love and Barbara “BJ” Erickson. Love founded and commanded the first group of 28 experienced women pilots who flew as part of the U.S. Army Air Forces in fall 1942. The 28 grew in time to 303 women pilots who ferried 12,652 military aircraft, logging more than 60 million miles. Erickson commanded a squadron of 75 women ferry pilots attached to the 6th Ferrying Group, Long Beach, CA. She proved to be an exceptional leader and a versatile pilot, ferrying a wide range of Army aircraft, including the four-engine B-17 bomber.
Rickman also won this award in 2009 for her book WASP of the Ferry Command: Women Pilots, Uncommon Deeds.
The Combs-Gates Award emphasizes the individual pioneers – the people – who defined America’s aerospace horizons. The award is named for Harry B. Combs and Charles C. Gates who shared the vision for historic preservation of this history. A panel of expert judges reviews each submission based upon criteria such as historical accuracy, creativity, potential for long-term impact, and value to the NAHF’s mission of honoring America’s outstanding air and space pioneers.
The International Forest of Friendship was a gift to America on the Nation’s 200th birthday (1976) from the City of Atchison, Kansas (Amelia Earhart’s birthplace) and The Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots. Trees in the forest represent all 50 states and 35 foreign countries. Rickman was honored with a plaque in the Colorado section of the forest. She was sponsored by friends in the aviation community for the honor.
Sarah Byrn Rickman grew up in Denver where she attended East High School. She worked as a reporter and columnist for The Detroit News, and, later, as editor of two suburban Ohio newspapers. She often speaks at national aviation conferences and is recognized as an authority on the women and history of the WASP. Rickman is also a pilot who flies vintage tailwheel aircraft. She is a resident of Colorado Springs, CO. To learn more, go to her website, sarahbyrnrickman.com.