World War II pilot Paula Ruth Loop, a 1937 OCW graduate, earned a bachelor of science degree in commerce. In 1942, one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Loop joined the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASP), where she received her silver wings the following year.
After graduating from OCW, Loop pursued a master’s degree at Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College in Stillwater.
While working in Ponca City, she was awarded a flight scholarship in 1940 under the Civil Air Authorities, which entitled her to 35 hours of flying and a private pilot’s license – the first woman in Oklahoma to do so. Maintaining an average grade point average of 94.9, she had her first solo flight on Sept. 22, 1940.
In December of 1942, Loop entered the WASP training program at Ellington Field, near Houston, Texas. Though nearly 25,000 women applied to the program, less than 1,900 were accepted, and just over half actually completed the program and received their wings; Loop received hers on May 28, 1943.
Loop also was a member of “The 99s,” an elite national organization of women aviators whose roster includes Amelia Earhart and several other famous women in aviation history.
On July 7, 1944, Loop was killed at the age of 27 during a flight from Enid to Seattle,
Wash. The BT-13 plane she was delivering crashed near Medford, Ore.
Though the military did not recognize Loop or any other of the other 37 women who died while in service to the WASPs, Tinker Air Force Base dedicated a building to her in Midwest City in 1980. Loop was named posthumously to the Oklahoma Aviation Hall of Fame in 2002.