Segment 1


Geraldine Nyman was born in Emmett, Idaho in 1920. Nyman grew up with a family that moved every year. Her father was a barber who would buy a barber shop with no bath tubs. He would outfit the barber shop with a bath tub, stay a year, and then continue on to another shop. The family never went through a Depression because of her father's ability to make money. Nyman ended up going to a different school every single year. She graduated high school when she was 15. Since her education lacked continuity, Nyman found that when she moved, more often than not, she was at a more advanced level then everyone else, so consequentially she was bumped up a few grades. That was about her life in terms of growing up. There was nothing dramatic about it at all; she had no brothers or sisters. Nyman went to college, but quit her last year because she was taking a class and the professor was terrible, so she got up and walked out, packed her bags and left college. She went back home. She got all of her stuff out of the sorority house. Nyman was bored one day and decided to take a flying lesson because she had never been in a plane before. The flying instructor offered Nyman a job because he needed help around the office. She helped him around the office. Nyman helped him, got her flying instruction, and subsequently became a flying instructor. When the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, everything shut down on the west coast. Nyman was within 200 miles of the coast. The flying school was shut down. She took off for New York in a bus. She stopped along the way to get flying lessons. Nyman got to New York eventually and that is where she met Jacqueline Cochran. Cochran had taken 20 women to England to fly with the Royal Air Force. Cochran invited Nyman to go in the next batch of 20. Cochran called frantically a week later saying she had finally gotten approval to form the Women's Service Pilot Service but expressed concern that she needed to have women who were well qualified. She also wanted women who had lots of guts. Cochran showed Nyman a letter from a high up in the Air Force. The man who wrote it said that he was told he had to make sure he gave the women an opportunity to fly, but that he knew women could and would never be able to fly military aircraft and to get rid of them as soon as possible. They had more flying time then any instructor on the base and they did not even have any military aircraft. Once they realized that the girls were able to fly the planes successfully, they brought military aircraft onto the base. Nyman was in the first class and they graduated successfully. When they graduated they graduated at Ellington Field. Jackie Cochran asked if the women were to receive wings, she was told they were not. In response, Cochran personally bought the first graduating class of WASPS their wings. They were very special to everyone. After Nyman graduated she decided to go home. On the train home, Nyman met a handsome young lieutenant. They were very interested in each other and they ended up getting married, they have been married for 67 years. A group decided to get together and head to Long Beach California. They got to Long Beach and went into the office of the head man. He looked up and was shocked. He said that he forgot they were coming and that they did not have a place to stay. Here they were, hot pilots according to themselves, and they had no place to stay. A young lieutenant came by and said they had an old insane asylum that had not been used so they cleaned it up and put the girls there. Nyman looked around and realized there were a lot of windows so she was concerned about peeping toms. There were no toilet seats and no bath curtains. It was awful to think they had gone through hell to graduate but here they were in the insane barracks. They did not have any bedding, so they gave them two army blankets. This went on until the second class arrived. The second class was horrified. They stayed about 3-4 weeks and were complaining. All of them went to the Villa Riviera which was the nicest hotel in town. They got the suite and sent the bill to the commanding officer. Maybe a week or two later the commanding officer procured a barrack space for them, so it paid to go to the hotel and send the commanding officer a bill.


All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You will be purchasing the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only specific clips. Please contact the Museum at if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to two weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address. See more information at