Rename Oakland Airport After Trailblazing Asian American Woman Pilot
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Did you know that not a single major airport in the United States is named for a woman?
Fortunately, the East Bay produced a trailblazing female pilot who would be a great namesake for the Oakland International Airport! Her name is Maggie Gee.
Maggie Gee (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M3Y6OBs5jc) was a member of a pioneering group of women in WWII who aided in the war effort by enlisting in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She was also one of only two Chinese-American women to serve as a WASP. These women pilots worked stateside ferrying planes, towing targets for gunnery training, and serving as instruments instructors for male pilots. Over 25,000 women applied to the WASP but only 1,074 were accepted and made it through the rigorous training program. Thirty-eight of these pilots died in service to their country.
As a child, Maggie Gee’s family would spend Sundays watching planes take off from the Oakland Airport. This is what first inspired her to fly.
At the start of WWII, Maggie passed a drafting test and left her first year of college to work at the Mare Island Naval Shipyards in Vallejo, California. There, she worked as a draftsman for the engineers who were working on classified projects on US Naval ships needing repair.
Once Maggie saved up enough money, she traveled to Nevada and paid $800 for six months of flight training and fifty hours of flying time. After she soloed and flew the required hours, Maggie applied for the WASP flying training program at Avenger Field, Texas and was accepted into class 44-W-9.
After graduation from WASP training, Maggie was sent to Las Vegas Army Air Field, where she served as a tow target pilot for flexible gunnery training for male cadets until the WASP were deactivated on December 20, 1944.
Maggie spent the remainder of her life serving her country and her community. She finished putting herself through school at UC Berkeley and spent the bulk of her career working as a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In 2010, Maggie and her fellow WASP received the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their significant service.
The individuals we, as a society, choose to memorialize publicly create a statement about whose contributions are worthy of recognition. Representation matters. Currently women, and especially women of color, are woefully underrepresented among icons, memorials, and airports.
It’s time to change that! We can make it happen.
The Oakland Airport is the City’s front door. The City has always prided itself on its unique and rich cultural heritage. Oakland’s history is one of activism and the fight for social justice by marginalized communities. Like so many of the East Bay’s native sons and daughters, Maggie Gee was a groundbreaker. She was one of the first American women trained to fly military aircraft. She answered her country’s call at a time of dire need. She dedicated her life to her country and her community. The Maggie Gee Oakland International Airport would provide the perfect welcome for visitors to the Bay Area.
We, the family and friends of Maggie Gee, are initiating this petition to demonstrate public support for renaming the Oakland Airport after this extraordinary woman.
Please sign this petition to show your support for Maggie Gee and all monument-worthy women! In the words of Maggie Gee, “Women can do anything, everything! I’m proud to be a woman!”
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