WASP

byColleen Thomas©

This is a work of fiction, set in a very real time period. I have tried to faithfully present this remarkable point in history, in both the details and historical accuracy. This tale is not meant not be revisionist history, nor even speculative "what if". It is meant only for enjoyment and I hope it fits that billing.

CET


With a roar of its powerful engine, the P-51D Mustang lifted off the strip at Mines Field and rose quickly into the thick overcast. The plane had been ferried over from El Segundo, and was now making the long cross-country flight that would take it near an East Coast harbor, and eventually to English soil. She would then enter the war that had been raging in Europe for over six years. The sleek fighter, with its ungainly extra fuel tank, banked sharply over the bay and soon began to fly low over the highway that led to Palm Springs.

Inside the cockpit, twenty-year old Andrea Campbell peered out of the canopy to make sure she was following the correct highway. Andrea had joined the WASPs in Macon, Georgia, and had only completed her flight training two months before. This was only her second time ferrying one of the powerful fighters across the U.S., and she was still not used to the tremendous power and agility of the planes.

The road was practically empty, due to wartime rationing and the lateness of the day. Usually she would be flying with other pilots, but her Mustang had developed engine trouble, and she had been forced to land for repairs moments after takeoff. The plane had been fixed and she now had to make the late flight to try to catch up to the rest of her group.

Ferrying warplanes was a very important task and each of the WASPs took their job seriously. Once they took off, that plane was theirs, and it was their responsibility to get it to the shipping point. There was no waiting for others to fly with, and if their planes developed problems, they had to get them fixed as quickly as the ground crews could manage, and carry on by themselves, if need be.

Andrea was as committed as any of her fellow pilots was, but she was not very comfortable flying solo yet. As time passed and the sun sank, though, the droning of the engine relaxed her. Andrea loved flying, and hoped she could continue to do so after the war. Her parents had always considered her an "odd bird" and opinions in her small town ranged from "touched" to "one of those". She had no interest in finding a husband and settling down to a life of boredom and drudgery.

She had gained her pilot's license and for a while flew crop dusters to help her father, before he sold the business. That life of boredom and drudgery had seemed to be her only option left, until the day the recruiter came to her home and gave his pitch. Her folks were dead set against her doing something so dangerous, but to Andrea, it had been nothing short of a miraculous answer to her prayers. The Women's Air Force Service Pilots program had given her a ticket out the stiffening atmosphere of her hometown, and even if she couldn't stay in the military after the war, she swore she was never going back. The recruiter had promised that the WASPs would be around after the war, and had even told her they were going to start officers' training, soon.

Flying gave her plenty of time to think; it was one of the things she loved about it. The freedom and adrenaline rush were complimented by the isolation and time to contemplate. The war was far from over, but Andrea knew it was coming to a close. The D-Day invasion had been called the beginning of the end for Hitler and the Nazis. In the Pacific, General Macarthur and Admiral Nimitz had the hated Japanese on the run.

Like everyone else, she was tired of the war and hoped it would end soon, but like many of the women now working, she hoped an end to the war would not signal a return to the role of women being homemakers only. She wanted a life, but not one of ceaseless toil, as she had watched her mother endure. Men had no place in her future plans, and that went doubly for a husband. She kept her attraction to a certain type of woman very carefully hidden, but she knew in her heart that it was just that kind of woman who would always "do it" for her.

It was growing dark and the field wasn't yet in sight, when she first noticed that the plane was acting strange. The familiar engine drone had become rough, and there was a shimmy in the airframe, almost as if the engine was trying to get away from the rest of the plane. She glanced at her instruments, and a cold fear clutched at her heart. The panel was dead. She had nothing: no altimeter, engine RPM, airspeed, heading, oil pressure, the whole damned panel was gone. Andrea felt sweat on her hands inside the black gloves she wore. The control yoke was still working, but the plane was reacting sluggishly. She fought down a rising panic and tried to raise the tower.

"This is transfer 147 to Tower, over," she called. Static was all she got, but at least the static meant the radio wasn't dead, although it might not be transmitting or receiving.

"This is transfer 147 to Palm Springs, Tower. Do you copy?"

Still no reply. Nothing. Andrea scanned the ground, but night had already fallen and she couldn't even find the road in the gathering gloom. Her heart was hammering in her chest and she felt sweat pouring off her face. She was glad of the goggles she wore, and unconsciously tightened the harness on her parachute.

"This is transfer 147. Mayday, mayday. Does anyone copy?" she called. She could hear the rising panic in her own voice. For a moment there was nothing, and then her radio crackled and a voice came in.

"One-four-seven, this is transfer one-five-two, do you copy?" a faint voice replied.

The voice was calm and commanding, with a deep Brooklyn accent. Andrea was so relieved to find she was at least transmitting.

"One-five-two, I copy."

"What's the problem, one-four-seven?"

"My instruments are dead, the engine is running rough, and I can't raise the tower," Andrea said. Her voice sounded much calmer now.

"Roger, I have the tower. Bring yourself to heading one-eight-O. You're north of the field."

"My compass is out," Andrea said as the panic set in again.

"Don't panic, girl," the voice ordered.

"What do I do?"

"Just hang tight and cut on your running lights," the voice called. "I'll be there in a few minutes."

There was a calm confidence in that voice, and Andrea drew some strength from it. Without instruments, she had no idea how she was doing on gas, but it shouldn't be a concern. She had more than enough for the short hop in her tanks. Still, the next five minutes held a nightmarish feeling, as she tried to keep calm.

"One-four-seven, do you copy?" the voice called. The signal was much stronger now.

"Roger."

"Listen to me carefully. Your radio is dying too; the signal is getting weaker by the moment. Bank left and look up, I'm right behind you and about two thousand feet above you. Don't key your mic anymore, just follow me. I'll lead you home."

Andrea tried to bank and, for a split second, her heart froze when the engine whined as if it were about to stall. She spotted the other plane's lights and throttled up slightly to climb to its altitude and catch up. The fighter lurched, the engine screamed, and the whole airframe shook violently. Andrea held her breath, but the plane adjusted to the higher RPM and she slowly climbed. The other plane, also a Mustang, waggled its wings and banked gently, and then Andrea followed.

For the next 20 minutes, Andrea listened with growing alarm as the rumbling of the engine became ever rougher. The whole plane had developed a bucking shudder and she was fighting with the control stick as the plane's responses became more and more sluggish. She was beginning to feel like she was riding in the rumble seat on a gravel road, when the plane before her began a gentle descent.

"Can you see the lights, one-four-seven?"

Andrea looked down and there before her on the flat dessert were the runway lights. Nothing she had ever seen looked so comforting.

"I see them."

"All right, I'm going in with you. I'll call out the numbers; just stay right with me. Best of luck."

The other plane moved back to even with her, and Andrea spent an intense few moments matching her speed to that of her companion.

"Throttle back, your airspeed is too high," the calm voice in her ear whispered.

She knew her radio was going. At this range, the other pilot should have been loud and clear, but the signal she was getting was increasingly faint.

"Good, good. All right, landing gear down."

Andrea hit the small switch to lower her gear, but the plane was shuddering so violently she couldn't tell if they had deployed.

"Can you see if they are down?" Andrea called.

The other plane dipped from her sight for a moment, and then returned to her wing. If the landing gear hadn't deployed, she was in trouble, because she had never tried a belly landing. If only one of the wheels was down, she was pretty much doomed and would be better off bailing out. Even skilled pilots had trouble with one-down landings.

"Looking good. Airspeed is good. On my mark, flaps down, and then she's all yours. Three, two, one, flaps!"

Andrea deployed the flaps, which caused the already violently shuddering plane to buck like a bronco. The field was coming up fast, and she had not even time to think before she hit, and she hit it hard. The violent impact threw her forward in her harness, but the second and third hops were less violent, and as she throttled back, the plane slowly rolled to a halt.

Smoke was pouring from the cowling, and emergency vehicles were all around. Men jumped on the wing of the still rolling plane, and tore back the canopy. She was pulled from the cockpit and down the wing to a waiting stretcher. In the ambulance, she was vaguely aware of the slight sting of a syringe needle, and in a matter of seconds, she knew no more.

***


Andrea was tired of the hospital bed. The landing hadn't broken any bones, but both of her shoulders had been wrenched, and she had spent two days there already. She was happy when the doctor released her, and she hurriedly put on her flight suit. Andrea knew she just had to get back in a plane before the fear she felt overwhelmed her. She made her way out to the North American line and stood silently in front of her plane.

"You bring that bird in?" a deep baritone voice behind her asked.

Andrea turned to find herself staring at a man's chest. She was only five-foot-seven, but she wasn't that short. The man before her was huge, with bulging muscles and flaming red hair worn in a crew cut.

"Yes."

"Let me shake your hand, girl. That was some flying. Name's Seamus McGuire and I know a lot of men who would have caterpillar'd rather than fight it down," he said extending a huge paw.

Andrea shook his hand and found herself liking him.

"Andrea Campbell. What was wrong with it?"

"Friday job," he said as he dug into the pocket of his grease-stained.

"Friday job?" she asked in bewilderment.

"Yeah, take a look at these," he said as he held up a handful of twisted, mangled and sheared off bolts. Andrea looked at them, but she didn't know anything about the engines of the planes she flew.

"Some dolt at the plant forgot to put in one of the mounting lugs. The engine vibration tore these others up. A few more minutes and you would have been up there without an engine."

"What about the instruments and radio?" she asked, feeling a rising dread in her soul.

"All came from the engine. Once she got to dancing in there, all kinds of things tore loose. Lucky for you, Tommy was close when you called the mayday. You would have never raised the tower. Looks like the first thing to go was your antenna."

"Tommy?"

"Yeah, Tommy Andover," the man said smiling.

"Who is that?" Andrea asked in confusion.

"Oh, I thought you probably knew her. Her real name is Thomasina, but she prefers Tommy," he said, and then added with a wink and grin, "prefers redheads too."

"Oh," Andrea said, blushing furiously.

There were running jokes and commentary on the sexual preferences of the WASPs. People, especially men, had a hard time understanding that the women in the service were every bit as patriotic as they were and wanted to serve their country. Old traditions and social mores died hard. To most men in the country, it seemed women were meant to make children and dinner. Rosy the Riveter and the women in the service seemed to be an affront to some of them. As if a woman's femininity was somehow lessened by helping her country when there was a war on. The worst offenders were usually also the first guys to ask them out.

"Not that I am insinuating anything about you, mind you. I respect you gals. I can fix anything that breaks on one of these birds, but I'll be damned if I would ever get in one."

"Is she ready?"

"Oh yeah. Trust me, darlin', you won't have another bit of trouble out of this bird, you have my word on it."

"Thanks," she said as she climbed in.

She felt strange, both scared and exhilarated as the powerful engine started with a snort. She taxied into position at the end of the sandy strip and waited for clearance. Once she got it, she said a quick prayer and throttled up.

***


Seamus proved to be as good as his word, and by pushing herself, Andrea made it to the delivery point just two days behind the rest of her group. She checked in with the base commander, changed into her dress uniform, and got a ticket back to L.A. on the train. Andrea was dead tired, but she didn't have any time to waste. If she caught the train back to L.A. that night, she should catch up with the rest of her friends, but she feared she would never make it to the station in time to catch the last train on foot. Luckily, she was an attractive girl, and it turned out to be easy to catch a lift with an MP headed into town. Once she was at the station, she managed to find a seat in the crowded car and fell instantly asleep.

When she awoke, the car was less crowded. That's how it usually worked on these cross-country trains. They would take the hordes of young men recruited on the East Coast to their training facilities. Once the train crossed the Mississippi, it would be nearly deserted. As they approached the coast, it would fill up again with trained recruits heading towards the west coast seaports and eventual shipment overseas as replacements for the troops in the Pacific.

In the early morning twilight, she took some time to observe her traveling companions. Three sleeping soldiers, who she assumed were returning from leave. A grizzled old Marine with more stripes and decorations than she had ever seen before on a dress uniform, dozed fitfully while leaning against a window. Four men and a woman in civvies, of whom she couldn't guess a destination, but she assumed they must have been of some importance, because unnecessary travel was frowned upon.

In the last seat in the car, a woman in WASP dress blues like Andrea wore.

The woman was stocky and had a very dark completion, with dark hair and intelligent brown eyes. She was staring at Andrea, and when their eyes met, she smiled. Her lips were full and pouty, and the smile was very pretty on her features. Everyone else was asleep, it seemed, and the woman silently motioned for Andrea to join her. She moved carefully and quietly to the last seat and sat across from the girl.

"Where you headed?" the girl asked in a sultry voice. There was something vaguely familiar about it, but Andrea wasn't quite sure what.

"L.A." she responded quietly.

"Me too," the woman said and stuck out her hand. "Tommy Andover. Nice to meet you."

"Andrea Caldwell, and we've already met," Andrea said. So this was Tommy Andover, the girl who liked redheads. Andrea was pleased to meet her and get a chance to thank her.

"I don't think so, I'd remember an angel-puss like you," the dark haired girl said and flashed a smile. Andrea blushed and lowered her eyes for a moment.

"I was transfer 147," she said.

The dark haired girl looked at her strangely and, after a few moments, a light seemed to go on in her head.

"Palm Springs?"

"Yes," Andrea said and smiled. Something about this woman made her fell all fluttery inside and suddenly very shy.

"Glad to see you made it down in one piece, toots."

"Thank you, you saved my life," Andrea said.

"Nah, you could have caterpillar'd, if things got too bad. What was wrong with that bird anyway? And how did you know it was me that talked you down?"

"I don't think I would have had time, the mechanic said the engine was about to rip loose. He's also the one who told me your name."

"Seamus?" Tommy asked.

"Yes."

"Probably told you I'm a stud broad too," Tommy said, smiling when Andrea blushed scarlet.

"Well, he did mention you liked redheads," Andrea said softly.

"Sure do, nothing like a little redheaded Dutch girl to get me going," Tommy said.

Andrea blushed and felt very uncomfortable. She had never met anyone so up front about her sexuality and it made her nervous.

"You're blushing, am I making you nervous?"

"I've just never met anyone who was so... open... about... well, you know."

"About being a lezzie? Well, I guess I'm pretty upfront about it, but why try and hide it? I love a girl who likes to eat jam," she said and shrugged.

She took out a pack of Lucky Strikes and offered one to Andrea who declined. Tommy lit one and breathed in deeply before exhaling.

"So what about you?"

"What about me?"

"Do you or don't you?" she said as she smiled rakishly and arched an eyebrow. Andrea simply blushed and lowered her eyes. She didn't know what to say or how to say it. She was still looking at the floor when Tommy caught her hand and pulled her across the small opening between seats and into her lap.

"Let me guess. You do, or at least you would, but you haven't had the chance yet, am I right?" she whispered in Andrea's ear.

"Please," Andrea begged as she struggled to return to her seat.

Tommy was strong and held her fast for a few moments, then suddenly released her hold, but Andrea found the will to get up was gone. She could feel Tommy's strong shoulders and chest pressed against her back as well as the girl's hips on her ass.

"Gonna get up? Or are you comfy where you're sitting?" the dark haired girl whispered in Andrea's ear. Andrea blushed crimson, but found herself incapable of moving and gasped when the shorter woman's hand slipped to her hip. Her body stiffened, then shuddered when the tip of Tommy's tongue traced along her ear.

"Well, since you seem to be in no hurry to move, how 'bout a bit of Braille?" Tommy whispered.

Andrea felt herself begin to shake uncontrollably and her eyes darted around the interior of the car. Tommy brought the cigarette to her lips and Andrea inhaled automatically, drawing the thick smoke deeply into her lungs.

"Relax, angel-puss, they're all asleep. You just keep that butt in your mouth and don't make a sound and let ole Tommy take care of ya," the butch whispered.

Tommy seemed unconcerned about where they were, as her hands slipped around the redhead's waist and hugged her tightly. Andrea was a slim girl, almost frail, and the experienced pilot could feel her ribs easily. Tommy generally went for more buxom women, but something about this one was different. It wasn't just the shyness, the soft southern accent, or the unconscious grace; something about her gave Tommy the hots in a way she hadn't experienced before. She didn't just want to fuck her, she wanted to claim her and keep her.

Whoa, Tommy girl, she admonished herself. It's a long way from feeling her up on the train to having her.

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byColleen Thomas© 17 comments/ 84916 views/ 31 favorites

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