During World War II the United States called up over 16 million - yes, think about that:.
The U.S. Military drafted 16,000,000 men into the armed forces to fight Germany in Europe and Japan in the Pacific!
Almost every man alive at that time that was fit for service was called upon to help end the wars in Europe and Asia.
In the meantime manufacturing companies in the U.S. were called upon to produce the machines of war in vast numbers to supply the troops.
Some of those machines were aircraft, and aircraft need to be test flown when they came off of the assembly line.
At the same time male pilots were in short supply to fly the fighters and bombers the Allies counted on for support.
So, who would test fly these aircraft?
Meet The Hellcat
One of the manufacturers - The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Company - designed and built a number different aircraft, including the famous Grumman F6F Hellcat.
This was a carrier based fighter aircraft which was designed to counter the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero.
The Hellcat became the dominant fighter during the second half of the war in the Pacific.
This was a powerful, rugged aircraft which could outperform the Zero and helped to secure air superiority in the Pacific Theater.
Meet Cecil "Teddy" Kenyon
Teddy, as she was known, was born in 1905 and grew up as a born daredevil riding her brother's motorcycle all the time dreaming of becoming a pilot.
In 1926 she married an MIT student and barnstormer by the name of Ted Kenyon. He taught his new wife to fly and she earned her pilot's license in 1929 with just 10 hours of flying time!
Cecil "Teddy" Kenyon was a charter member of the "99s", an organization formed by 99 women pilots in 1929.
Today The Ninety-Nines, Inc. is an organization of women pilots represented in all areas of aviation today.
In 1933 she won the National Sportswomen Flying Championship at Roosevelt Field, NY.
Later in the 1930s, Teddy flew for the Civil Air Patrol and later ran The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Company ferry service, picking up and delivering aircraft parts.
By the time the Second World War broke out Teddy had been flying for years.
Three Grumman Female Test Pilots
But the war was experiencing a shortage of pilots, and Bud Gilles (head of Grumman's Testing and Flight Operations) decided to hire women as pilots to test the new F6F Hellcat fighters as they rolled off the assembly line.
One of the three he hired was Cecil "Teddy" Kenyon who became a test pilot for Grumman Aircraft during World War II. The others were Barbara Jayne and Lib Hooker.
Gilles closed the entire airfield on the day of the women's first flights and sent most of the company's personnel home.
History was made in 1943 when these three female pilots from the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Company became the first women to test Navy fighter aircraft.
But he made sure to invite the press!
Afterward, newspapers and magazines featured glamour shots of the three in full flight gear and perfect lipstick!
After the war she continued to fly and in 1960 she received her helicopter pilot's license.
She continued as an active pilot well into her 70s until her death in 1985.
Randolph Engineering Cecil Sunglasses
To honor this incredible woman Randolph Engineering designed its distinctive Cecil aviators, an oversized yet lightweight style that is perfect for round to triangular-shaped faces.
You can check them out here on our website at Randolph Cecil Aviators.
In the meantime, keep your eyes safe and focused on what's ahead of you Hersch!