Free admission (all visitors, all hours)
Hazel Ying Lee was born in 1912 in Portland, Oregon, to parents originally from Shanghai, China. Despite facing obstacles and discrimination for being female and Chinese American, Hazel pursued, trained, and achieved her dream of becoming a pilot. In 1943, she became the “first Chinese American woman to fly for the U.S. military” as part of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program. The WASP program was started by the U.S. military to draft female pilots and remedy the shortage of male pilots. Hazel Ying Lee was among a group of over one thousand women involved with the program and was also its first Asian American member. A month before the termination of the program in 1944 and towards the end of the war, Hazel Ying Lee’s life came to an abrupt end when her plane collided with another plane in Montana while in flight. She died at the age of 33. Comprised of primary artifacts including original personal photographs, family letters, documents, newspaper articles, and memorabilia, Hazel Ying Lee’s remarkable but relatively anonymous life story as a pioneer Chinese American woman aviator during the 1930s and 1940s is brought to the fore through this collection, donated by Hazel’s sister, Frances M. Tong, and filmmaker Alan H. Rosenberg.