Jane S. Straughan, 93, of Fenwick Island and Silver Spring, Md., died Monday, March 12, 2007, at Berlin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Berlin, Md. She was the daughter of the late Charles W. and Minnie Wineheimer Sincell.
Straughan became a pioneer in women’s aviation, obtaining her commercial pilot’s license in 1938. She was the only woman to work in the aviation department at ERCO, demonstrating airplanes to potential buyers. She was a member of the elite “Ninety-Nines,” an organization of female pilots founded in 1929 with Amelia Earhart as the first president. During World War II she joined the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots and was in the first class of 23 women to be trained to fly military aircraft. The WASPs was deactivated in 1945 and no woman would fly a U.S. military aircraft again until 1977.
After serving three years on the Civil Aeronautics Board in Washington, D.C., she went to work for the Social Security Administration, retiring in 1981 after more than 20 years of service. After retiring, Straughan enjoyed life at Leisure World in Silver Spring, Md. and spent her summers in Fenwick Island. She remained involved with the WASPs and her fellow pilots and was a captain in the Air Force Reserves. She attended the Interfaith Chapel in Leisure World and St. Matthews-By-The-Sea in Fenwick Island.
Straughan is survived by two sons, John W. “Jack” Straughan and wife Kathy of Olney, Md., and Charles W. “Bill” Straughan and wife Mary Lou of Selbyville; a step-daughter, Betty Ann Riddel of Winter Haven, Fla.; three grandchildren, Jason K. Straughan, Erin L. Straughan, Paige A. Straughan; one great-grandson, Jackson P. Straughan. She was preceded in death by her husband, Alfred W. “Al” Straughan; and her grandson, Scott R. Straughan.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 24, 2007, at 1 p.m. at St. Matthew’s-By-The-Sea United Methodist Church, 1000 Coastal Highway, Fenwick Island. Interment, with full military honors, will be on Tuesday, May 15, 2007, at 1 p.m. at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Field of Firsts Foundation, 1985 Cpl. Frank Scott Drive, College Park, MD 20740; or St. Matthews-By-The-Sea United Methodist Church, 1000 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island, DE 19944.