First Mission Aviation
Greene (center) made the first flight into a rugged region of Papua, Indonesia,
to visit missionaries Bill and Grace Cutts. The Monis tribe, which had worked so
hard to build the air strip, came out in full force.
As the first pilot for Mission Avi- ation Fellowship, Betty Greene flew across the Andes and was the first woman to pilot an aircraft in Sudan for the Mission Aviation
But Greene, a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during
World War II, wasn’t one to talk about her
achievements. As WASP aviators, Greene
and 1,100 other women took on non-combat
flying duties that often were hazardous,
freeing up male pilots for combat.
She wasn’t looking for publicity, and the
last thing she wanted to do was brag about
any of it. Had it not been for Greene’s parents sharing her exploits with the rest of
the family, not even her closest kin might
have known much about her work.
“I never got the feeling that any of the
Greene siblings ever thought anything
they did was heroic,” said Naraelle Hohensee, Greene’s grand-niece, who represented her great aunt at a Capitol Hill
ceremony that honored WASPs with a
Congressional Gold Medal.
WASP aviator Betty Greene
became a Mission Pilot
Betty Greene’s older brother Al, who
in 1940 sailed with his wife to China as
a missionary, is Hohensee’s grandfather.
Hohensee found that attitude of humble
sacrifice common among her great-grandparents’ children and the women of their
generation receiving the honors.
“I got the feeling it [the service] didn’t
faze the women who actually did it.
They didn’t realize they were doing anything out of the ordinary,” Hohensee said.
“They just did what they loved.
“I think Aunt Betty felt the same way.
She was doing what she loved and didn’t
think anything else of it.”
Greene died April 10, 1997, of Alzheim-
er’s at her home on Lake Washington near
Seattle. She was 77.
Betty Greene’s fascination with becoming a pilot began in childhood. A devout
Presbyterian who enjoyed ministering in
her church’s youth group, she also sensed
God had called her to use airplanes to
further missionary work—even though at
the time, there was no such thing as mission aviation. While training at Aveng-