Gertrude Vreeland Tompkins was born October 16th, 1911, the daughter of Vreeland Tompkins, and Laura Tompkins. After graduating from the Ambler School of Horticulture, Gertrude had moved to New York City.
Her boyfriend, a Royal Air Force pilot, had brought her up for her first and only flight before heading overseas. Sadly, Gertrude received the news that he was not to return. His aircraft was lost in battle.
Following his death, Gertrude choose to apply to the WASP program. Women Airforce/Army Service Pilots (WASP); An idea introduced by pilot Jacqueline "Jackie" Cochran when she wrote to the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1939 to suggest the idea of using women pilots in non-combat missions, such as transporting aircraft from their factories in North America, across the ocean to the European Theatre of Operations. The purpose was to free male pilots to focus on their combat roles during the Second World War.
On October 26th, 1944; Gertrude, flying for the 601st Ferrying Squadron, 5th Ferrying Group, Love Field, Dallas, departed from Mines Field (Los Angeles International Airport) on a night flight destined for Palm Springs. For this ferry flight, she was at the controls of a North American P-51D Mustang 44-15669 headed for the East coast. Sadly Gertrude's Mustang never arrived at Palm Springs, and unfortunately, due to a series of errors, the fighter was not reported overdue or missing until days later.
After an extensive search was finally launched, no trace of the Mustang, or its pilot was ever found.