Please welcome our newest Hot Dead Chick

Madame Weebles —  June 11, 2012 — 46 Comments

This lovely lady is our newest Hot Dead Chick in more ways than one—she’s the newest addition to the Weebles family, and she’s also the most recently deceased. She died on October 13, 2009, which makes her the youngest member of the gang.

Margaret Ann Hamilton Tunner

Photo from the Woman’s Collection, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX

I have a particular soft spot for her because she was a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) during World War II. The WASP were civilian women who volunteered to fly military planes in support of the armed forces; while the men were at war there was a shortage of pilots on the homefront, and these women answered the call. They ferried new aircraft from the factories to the air bases, served as test pilots, and taught the fellas a thing or two about having the Right Stuff.  I had the privilege of meeting a few of these trailblazing women several years ago when I was working on a museum exhibition about the WASP.

When she joined the WASP in 1943, Tunner had already been a licensed pilot for several years. As a WASP she had the distinction of checking out on the most sophisticated aircraft, including the P-51, P-47, and P-39 fighters and the B-17 and B-24 bombers. Not all of the women were rated to fly all of these planes; Tunner was one of the few. That makes her even hotter, in my not-so-humble opinion.

Now here’s the sucky part. By the end of 1944, a lot of male pilots were coming home from the war and they wanted to take over the work that the WASP were doing. So Congress abruptly and unceremoniously ended the WASP program. And because the WASP were civilians, they received no military benefits after disbanding. To add insult to injury, they had to pay their own way back home. Basically the government said, “You’re on your own, ladies—good luck with that.” Douchebags.

These heroic women were forgotten for more than 30 years. But in 1976, the US Air Force finally started accepting women for flight training and the press referred to them as “the first female pilots.” Former WASP pilots swarmed (you should pardon the pun) the media to set the record straight.

In 1977, Tunner and several of her fellow flygirls went a step further and appeared before Congress to demand that the WASP be acknowledged as a military entity. With the help of Senator Barry Goldwater, who had been a pilot himself during WWII, they succeeded in getting Congress to grant them veteran status with all of the benefits attached. The WASP finally received the recognition that they should have had so many years earlier.

Tunner continued to fly until the end of her life, and her obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch tells a very cool story.  For her 78th birthday she was granted special permission to co-pilot an F-15. Before the flight, the pilot asked her if she preferred a conventional takeoff or a rapid takeoff using the fighter jet’s afterburners. She chose the rapid takeoff. Kickass!

Here’s to you, Margaret Ann. You were gorgeous, but more importantly, you got it done. Thank you.

46 responses to Please welcome our newest Hot Dead Chick

  1. 

    Ballsy ladies are extra hot. Just like you, babe.

  2. 

    Bravo to all the WASPs and especially to you Margaret Ann. You really were kickass!!! Thanks for all that you gals did.

  3. 
    Fish Out of Water June 11, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I love that about women, we face institutional douchebaggery and we still kick ass.

  4. 

    What a story! She was a looker, all right, and she had guts to spare. She’s got my vote!
    Thanks for sharing another marvelous untold story–about one of our many unsung heros.

  5. 

    I Am Woman Hear Me Roar, or at least my engines! Somewhere Margaret Ann Hamilton Tunner is smiling down on you. Great post, Madame Weebles. I would never have heard about this cool story if not for you : )

    • 

      Holy crap, that’s a good line: “I Am Woman Hear Me Roar, or at least my engines!” I think Margaret Ann would have liked that line very much. In fact, they should make that a slogan for all female pilots, drivers, etc. Love It.

  6. 

    Love it! She was hot in every sense of the word. :-)

  7. 

    Cool post about a hot dead chick. Glad that the WASPs got the appreciation they deserved but interesting that that didn’t happen until after the women’s movement.

  8. 

    Pilot hot is particularly hot. :)

  9. 

    Very sexy indeed! Lady fighter pilot? Um, yes please.

  10. 

    Very interesting and vexing. In your research did you find out why WAVES, WACs, SPARs and Marine Corps Women Reserves were officially acknowledged and the WASPs weren’t??? BTW Jackie Cochran and Nancy Harkness Love – hotties, n’cest pas?

    • 

      That is an excellent question with a complicated answer. The WAVES, WACs, WAAFs, SPARs, and Marine Corps Womens Reserves (who were “affectionately” referred to by the Marines as BAMs–Broad-Assed Marines) were founded by the military as adjuncts to the main male-only branches of the armed forces. The WASPs were more like the Merchant Marines—they were seen as playing a support role. (BTW, the Merchant Marines are another group that got royally shafted after WWII–they didn’t get veteran status until 1988.)

      And oui, Jackie and Nancy were babes too—I thought of including them but I wanted to give some props to the women who weren’t as well known. But maybe I’ll just have to do more WASP profiles in the future. :D

  11. 

    Let’s here it for tales of forgotten badassery! We’re quickly losing a generation of quiet heroes.

  12. 

    Let’s *hear* it even!

  13. 

    What an awesome story! I never knew about the WASPS, thank you for the fascinating education!

  14. 

    …and there’s nothing sexier than a woman who ‘gets it done’! Thanks for this Mme. Weebles.

  15. 

    When do we get to vote. I am voting for her!

  16. 

    great. now i’m a pervert. because i’m having terribly, horribly, nastily, no-good, filthy thoughts about an incredibly sexy DEAD woman. (and my dear, you have NO idea how much i love this thing you do with the military pilots…)

    • 

      It’s tempting to change the name to Hot Dead Flyboys and Flygirls, but then we’d miss out on all the other dead hotness. I have to dig up the photos I found of other random WWII pilots. Hotness galore.

  17. 

    I love it, MW. Female aviators really are hot! And still, it seems, rare. It’s always very cool to me, when a woman captain or co-captain comes out of the cockpit at the end of commercial flight to greet the exiting passengers. Truthfully, I think we still have a ways to go…Thanks for an excellent post.

    • 

      I agree, Cathy—still miles to go before we sleep. I’m also always pleasantly surprised when I see a woman in the cockpit, it’s still too much of a rarity. So glad you enjoyed!

  18. 

    MAJOR douchebags, those stoopid Congress people. I so love these stories of hot dead chicks, especially when they kick a** like Marg (and you do as well, MW). I learn so much from these and they’ve got your signature humor. THIS ROCKS. Thank you. Love those flyboys and love these flygirls too. :).

  19. 

    First-time visitor here. Wow … great post to a deserving lady. Wait a minute … looking at the gravatars ..this site is starting to scare me.

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