Cornelia Fort would have been an iconic Aviation Heroine from those Golden Years of aviation during and after World War II, if not for her death in a mid-air collision early in 1943. The door was closed on what surely would have been flying legends and adventures as iconic as the adventures of Wiley Post and Pancho Barnes. As it is, Cornelia plunged to her death in the west Texas desert in the wreckage of a BT-13. She was the first of the WAFS killed in the line of service but she did not die before she had a least a few adventures of historical significance. The most significant one occurred when she launched to teach a flying lesson over Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
As her student was flying the aircraft to the runway at John Rodgers Airfield (now Honolulu International), she had to take control of the aircraft to avoid being rammed by one of the attacking Japanese aircraft. Unlike some of the other seven civilian aircraft flying that morning, she was able to dodge the first near ramming, a subsequent air-to-air strafing pass by another Japanese aircraft, and an air-to-ground strafing pass once she had landed and was exiting her aircraft. Even though her aircraft ended up with several bullet holes, she and her student managed to live through the day that claimed the lives of 2,335 US Servicemen (1,177 from the USS Arizona) and 68 civilians.