From the Director: Meet Hazel Ying Lee, first Chinese-American woman to fly for the U.S. military. Known for her skill and courage, her peers considered her to be an excellent pilot.
Born in Portland, Oregon on August 24, 1912, Lee was drawn to flying when she was a teenager. She took a job as an elevator operator in downtown Portland, saved money for private flying lessons and was flying by the time she was nineteen.
In 1944, Lee attended Pursuit School in Brownsville, Texas, becoming one of a select group of women qualified to fly high-powered, single-engine, fighter aircraft, including the P-51 Mustang.
Hazel Ying Lee died on November 25, 1944, as a result of injuries sustained in a collision on a runway with a malfunctioning plane whose radio had failed. Both planes had accidentally been directed to land on the same runway at the same time. Hazel Lee was one of the last of the 38 WASP’s killed during the war.