When World War II beckoned, she was a 24-year-old mother of two daughters, ages 4 and 2. Her husband was a draftsman for Lockheed in Southern California, and her brother became an Army Air Forces pilot.

Carol Brinton longed to become a pilot herself -- "My husband had bad eyes so he couldn't get in, and I've always had a hard time letting my brother get ahead of me in anything," she said -- but the U.S. military had other ideas.

"They kept saying women couldn't fly anything bigger than a Piper," she said.

In 1942, with a shortage of male pilots and a desperate need to muscle up for war, the military changed course.

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