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Purchase American Flygirl

In celebration of AAPI Heritage Month, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) cordially invites you to an engaging conversation with Susan Tate Ankeny as she delves into the extraordinary life of Hazel Ying Lee, a trailblazer whose story remains hidden in American history. American Flygirl, the first and only full-length biography of Lee, unveils the story of an unrecognized pioneer and unsung World War II hero who confronted the barriers imposed by her country due to her gender, race, and ambition. Lee broke through countless barriers to become the first Asian American woman to earn a pilot’s license and the first to fly for the U.S. military. Her accomplishments as a daughter of Chinese immigrants and a pioneering female aviator challenged and changed historical trajectories.

Ankeny will take us back to 1932, the year Hazel Ying Lee discovered her passion for aviation and began her brave journey to support China during World War II. Despite facing relentless oppression and discrimination both in the United States and abroad, Lee refused to let societal constraints hold her back. Join us to honor the indomitable spirit and enduring legacy of Hazel Ying Lee, whose tenacious spirit and unwavering determination shattered stereotypes and paved the way for future generations.

MOCA houses the Hazel Ying Lee & Frances M. Tong Collection, generously donated by Lee’s sister, Frances M. Tong, and filmmaker Alan H. Rosenberg. The collection contains original personal photographs, family correspondence, documents, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia that illustrate Lee’s remarkable life and contributions.

About Susan Tate Ankeny

Susan Tate Ankeny is the author of nonfiction WWII history books including American Flygirl and The Girl and the Bombardier. A former educator, she is a member of the Oregon Chapter of the 8th Air Force Historical Society, and the Association des Sauvetuers d’ Aviateurs Alliés. The daughter of a WWII bombardier and great-granddaughter of Oregon pioneers, she lives in the Pacific Northwest.

About American Flygirl

In 1932, Hazel Ying Lee, a nineteen-year-old American daughter of Chinese immigrants, sat in on a friend’s flight lesson. It changed her life. In less than a year, a girl with a wicked sense of humor, a newfound love of flying, and a tough can-do attitude earned her pilot’s license and headed for China to help against invading Japanese forces. In time, Hazel would become the first Asian American to fly with the Women Airforce Service Pilots. As thrilling as it may have been, it wasn’t easy.

In America, Hazel felt the oppression and discrimination of the Chinese Exclusion Act. In China’s field of male-dominated aviation she was dismissed for being a woman, and for being an American. But in service to her country, Hazel refused to be limited by gender, race, and impossible dreams. Frustrated but undeterred she forged ahead, married Clifford Louie, a devoted and unconventional husband who cheered his wife on, and gave her all for the cause achieving more in her short remarkable life than even she imagined possible.

American Flygirl is the untold account of a spirited fighter and an indomitable hidden figure in American history. She broke every common belief about women. She challenged every social restriction to endure and to succeed. And against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Hazel Ying Lee reached for the skies and made her mark as a universal and unsung hero whose time has come.

May 22, 2024
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

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