Virginia Scott “Scotty” Gough

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Virginia Scott “Scotty” Gough (Bradley)

Death: May 22, 2013 (90)
Managed by: Private User
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About Virginia Scott “Scotty” Gough

Scotty Bradley lost her mother at an early age, so her father raised her and her two brothers by himself. From the time she could remember, she wanted to fly. Even before she was old enough to take lessons, she read everything she could about flying. When she realized that pilots required good eyesight, she began eating carrots, one each day, which she did for the rest of her life.

After high school graduation, she was selected as one of 10 finalists for a college scholarship, and during her interview, the committee asked about her aspirations and course selection. She said she wanted to be a pilot and take aeronautical engineering courses, but the expressions on the committee members' faces showed that she would not obtain the scholarship. Instead, she worked at a bank earning $25 a week, and, with her father's encouragement, used part of her salary to pursue her dream.

She completed ground school, flying lessons, and her solo at Glendale Municipal Airport in Glendale, California. Early one Sunday morning on December 7, 1941, while practicing landings, a red light signaled her to return to the hangar. The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor and America was at war. All civilian flying within 200 miles of the coast was grounded.

She commuted inland to Blythe, California since its airport lay beyond the "no-fly" zone. There, she worked weekends with an ambulance corps that was teaching women to fly. When Blythe Army Air Field opened, she worked in the base's control tower and built up her flight hours.

She wrote to Jackie Cochran, director of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) training program, but the reply was disappointing. Scotty wasn't old enough to participate; she had to wait a year before reapplying.

During that year, the owner of the local airport offered her free flight time if she made parachute jumps to attract crowds to the airport. The only instructions she received before her first jump were from the rigger who told her to count to 10 slowly to prevent the airplane's tail from catching the canopy and ripping it. She jumped and flew until she was old enough to report for WASP training.

On February 11, 1944, she paid her own way to Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas and reported for training as a member of Class 44-W-7 with 97 other hopeful young women. Her peers immediately selected her as squadron commander. This "honor" meant she was responsible for marching the trainees everywhere, was last in line for the mess hall and first out the door each morning to line up her classmates for more marching.

She moved through the US Army Air Force training program, taking the same classes and flying the same aircraft as male AAF cadets. On September 8, 1944, Scotty and 58 others graduated. One final time she lined them up, and they marched to receive their silver WASP wings.

She was ordered to Williams Army Air Field in Mesa, Arizona, under the command of the West Coast Training Center. She flew ferry missions in the AT-6 and also operated as an engineering test pilot, verifying that repaired, or "red-lined," planes were safe for the male cadets and instructors to fly.

After the WASP were deactivated, she returned home and flew sighteeing tours around southern California. Eventually, she joined other former WASP in a ferrying service, flying planes to civilian factories around the country and back to California.

In November 1947, she married Peter Gough, a brother of one of her WASP classmates. She flew her last commercial piloting job seven months pregnant. Thereafter, she became a full-time mother to each of her four children.

She shared her story about being a WASP by speaking often at the Experimental Aircraft Associations's "Air Venture" event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She also volunteered at the WASP Store in Oshkosh and other air shows across the country. She spoke frequently at local events and schools, and helped establish a WASP exhibit at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Base near Dover, Delaware.

The 99's inducted her as a member of their "Forest of Friendship" in 2002, and the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame inducted her as a member in 2007. She was a life member of the First Flight Society at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and an Honorary Commander at Dover Air Base in Delaware.

In 2010, the US Congress awarded Scotty and her sister WASP the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor that body can bestow, for their outstanding service to our country during World War II. At the ceremony, held in Emancipation Hall in the US Capitol building, she was seated in the front row.

She never lost her love of flying or parachuting. Always an outstanding athlete, she added golf, tennis, bowling, gardening and cards to her passions, along with enthusiastically rooting for her favorite team, the Maryland Terrapins. She enjoyed living near the beach where she walked and swam. Her many acts of kindness she kept to herself, and her family is just beginning to learn the depth of her compassionate spirit.

Her two daughters were at her bedside when she died quietly after complications from pnemonia. She took her final flight moments before a thuderous storm arrived. Her family thinks she wanted to get beyond the clouds before they blocked her in.

Her husband, Peter W. Gough, and her younger brother, William Bradley, preceded her in death. She is survived by her children Michael Peter Gough, Joan-Scott Gough, Laurence Bradley Gough and Constance Josephine Gough. One grandchild, Heather Foster, USAF MD, is currently a flight doctor in Afghanistan. She is also survived by her older brother Laurence Bradley and sisters-in-law Joan Bradley and Pat Gough, along with numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial mass to celebrate Scotty's life was held at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Bethany Beach, Delaware on June 25, 2013. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hero Dogs at PO Box 64, Brookeville, MD 20833 or Metro Ferals, PO Box 1385, Sykesville, MD 21784.

Scotty was quoted in the book, *Out of the Blue and Into History*, by Betty Turner: "...People asked us, you know, why we did this, why we flew. It was an honor and a privilege for us to serve our country, doing what we loved best, and that was to fly, but to tell you the truth...if I had had the money at that time, I would have gladly paid them for that wonderful training and the opportunity to fly those wonderful airplanes."

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