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State Historical Society March 3 program features female pilots of World War II

CONTACT: Jeff Mammenga, Media Coordinator, 605-773-6000,
State Historical Society March 3 program features female pilots of World War II
PIERRE, S.D.—The South Dakota State Historical Society is hosting historian and author Katherine Sharp Landdeck at its March “History Talk,” Thursday, March 3, from 7-8 p.m. CST (6-7 p.m. MST).
The presentation, “Lessons in Perseverance from the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II,” focuses on women pilots (WASPs) during the second world war, as explored in Landdeck’s book “The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II.”
Thirty-eight WASPs would not survive the war. But even considering these tragic losses, the program seemed to be a resounding success—until, with the tides of war turning, Congress clipped the women’s wings. The program was disbanded; the women were sent home. But the bonds they’d forged never failed, and over the next few decades they came together to fight for recognition as the military veterans they were—and for their place in history.
“World War II deeply impacted all Americans, including a South Dakota native, Violet Thurn,” writes Landdeck, who found an oral history interview with Violet (Cowden) Thurn while writing her book and using resources from archives across the country as a graduate student at the University of Tennessee. “Growing up watching the birds fly over the plains, wishing she could join them, Violet, known as ‘Vi,’ seized her chance to fly and to serve her country in the WASP program during the war.”
Landdeck will be presenting virtually. Individuals may watch her presentation in-person at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, 900 Governors Drive, or via Zoom. Free registration is available at
March’s History Talk presentation is in conjunction with the 2022 South Dakota State Historical Society History Conference and Governors Awards for History, April 22-23, at the Pierre Ramkota Hotel and Convention Center. More information and conference registration can be found at Educators may attend this presentation and the conference for continuing education contact hours.
“The Women with Silver Wings” may be purchased through the Heritage Stores, with locations at the Cultural Heritage Center and the State Capitol, and online at
“History Talks” is a monthly speaker series sponsored by the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation. To support future events and the activities of the State Historical Society, visit to donate today. For information about society membership, call 605-773-6000.
About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution since 2013, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing, and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.


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