Nell “Mickey” Stevenson Bright 43-W-7 | WASP in the Spotlight 4-28-2023

Nell Stevenson was born on June 20, 1921, in Canyon, Texas. When she was eight years old, her father paid a dollar for her to ride in a World War I biplane, and from then on, she knew she wanted to learn to fly.

Nell graduated from West Texas A&M with a B.S. degree in English and Economics. Her fiancé nicknamed her “Mickey,” and the name stuck. With her parents’ support, Nell and nine men bought a Taylorcraft in 1941. By the end of 1942, Mickey had earned her private pilot’s license at English Field, Amarillo, Texas, with over 75 hours of flying time. One day, while waiting to fly, she picked up an aviation magazine and read about the new women’s group headed by Jacqueline Cochran. Qualified applicants needed to be 21 years old and have a pilot’s license with 35 hours of flight time.  Mickey met all the requirements and applied immediately.

She was part of class 43-W-7, which began training on May 29, 1943, at Avenger Field, and graduated on November 13, 1943. After graduation, she was one of twenty chosen to be the first women trained to fly B-25 bombers at Mather Field, California. Mickey then transferred to the 6th Tow Target Squadron at Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas, where she towed targets for anti-artillery training with live ammunition. She flew various planes such as the PT-19, BT-13, AT-6, AT-7, AT-11, C-78, B-25, SBD (A-24), SBC (A-25), and the P-47, towing targets, strafing, and conducting night searchlight missions. 

After the WASP program was deactivated on December 20, 1944, it was difficult for them to find jobs, particularly in aviation. Many people had never heard of the WASP or believed that the program was real.  They were not given an honorable discharge because they were civilians. Mickey was single and could go anywhere she wanted, so she and a high school friend drove to Phoenix, Arizona. There, they found jobs as soda jerks at Luke Air Force Base. When asked if they were trying to meet pilots, Mickey once smiled and replied, “You got that right.”

Although she didn’t meet a pilot, Mickey did meet her future husband while working at the airport – he was a mechanic. The couple got married and had two children. Mickey continued to break down gender barriers by becoming one of the first female stockbrokers in the Phoenix area along with another woman. She worked in the field for an impressive 50 years before retiring at the age of 85.

Nell “Mickey” Stevenson Bright continues to tell the WASP story as often as she can.

“There are people even now that have never heard of the WASP. It’s just so great to get this history out there.” 

-Mickey Bright –

Written by: Ann Haub | Collections Director
Photos courtesy: National WASP WWII Museum Archives

Archives Contact:

Partner with the WASP Archive in achieving its mission to collect, protect, preserve, and provide access to materials that chronicle the WASP story, its legacy, and the personal and professional lives of its pilots. New artifacts are always welcome. Please call Ann Haub at 325-235-0099 or by emailing her at


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