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(CNN) – As a young woman growing up just miles from O'Hare Airport outside of Chicago, Lorraine Rodgers was fascinated with aviation.
It was the early 1940s, and Amelia Earhart had become the first woman to fly solo, nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean a decade earlier. Charles Lindbergh had done it a few years before that.
"I read every word I could about them and what they did," said Rodgers, now 93. "I wanted to fly."
Rodgers got a job so she could pay for flying lessons every Saturday. In the fall of 1942, she read in the paper about an experimental program to train female pilots for domestic duty and free up men to fight overseas.