Jill Tallman

A jewel of a find on Google

December 9, 2008 by Jill W. Tallman, Associate Editor

Quite by accident today I discovered that Google is the home of the newly digitized LIFE magazine archive. When I did a search for “aviation,” I got more than 200 images. Here’s my favorite, taken in 1943 by Peter Stackpole and labeled, “Female pilot of the US Women’s Air Force Service posed w. her leg up on the wing of an airplane.”* Just in time for the holidays, you can order a framed copy of your favorite print, and prices start at $79.99. Even if aviation isn’t your main passion, the LIFE archive is ever so much more of a satisfying lunchtime surfing experience than, say, a certain video of an aerobatic airplane that purportedly loses its wing in flight…

*If you can ID the aircraft in the photo, tell me in the Comments section.

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12 Responses to “A jewel of a find on Google”

  1. Former T-6 Guy Says:

    She’s stepping onto a T-6 “Texan,” an advanced trainer of that era. And she’s doing it with some unusual footwear . . .

  2. Enrique Garcia Says:

    Probably a promotional picture for the service.

  3. John Ritchie Says:

    Great photo showing determination and fortitude….Like he said, the aircraft looks like a North American T-6 Texan (the Navy called it the SNJ). It was used as a transition aircraft to the front line models such as P-51, etc. Are those regulation issue sandals? One of my flight instructors always said to wiggle your toes to keep your feet warm/flexible on long flights, maybe that’s what she plans on doing :-)

  4. Queen Says:

    Thanks for the great tips.

  5. Clint Bersuch Says:

    I see that the consensus opinion here is that this is an AT-6/SNJ but it’s not. This is a Vultee BT-13. Take a good look at the shape of the windows, especially the ones behind the rear cockpit. Then do a Google search of BT-13 images and you will see that they are an exact match right down to the inverted “T” shaped latch that is on the sliding portion of the canopy.

    Here is a link with some very good photos that show what I’m talking about:


    I love these old photographs and really appreciate that the Life Magazine archive is now available online.

  6. Dwain Pittenger Says:

    I believe It’s a ‘Vultee Vibrator’ BT-13. From the baggage door looks and wheels on A/C to the Rt under this A/C. A basic trainer with P&W R 985. We canablized these A/C for engines and wheels to install on “450” Stearmans in the 50’s. “For what its worth” Pitt

  7. John Ritchie Says:

    I yield to Clint and Dwain; you nailed it…a BT-13. My apologies… The long, triangular rear window should have been a dead giveaway, it’s a lot stubbier looking on the T-6 as shown below:


  8. MaryAp Says:

    You are a very smart person! :)

  9. FWB Says:

    That’s a BT-13 and a WASP — Womens Airforce Service Pilot. This issue of LIFE and the photos in it are what got many young ladies into the WASP program — and they flew everything from PT-17s, AT-6 to multi trainers and B-17s and B-24s — and “hot ships” like the Martin B-26, P-47 and P-51s.. And when the men were afraid to fly the B-29 ’cause the engines caught fire, Paul Tibbets taught a couple WASP to fly the ’29 and they toured a few airfields — suddenlty the men decided they could fly the ’29, too! True story. Look it up.

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