At age 14 she enrolled in a flying club, and by 15 performed her first solo flight. It’s no wonder we are so impressed with Lydia Litvyak, the White Lily (Rose) of Stanlingrad. She was the first female fighter pilot to earn the title fighter ace.
Ever since she was a child she became interested in flying. For three years she was a flight instructor, then after the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Litvyak tried to join a military aviation unit. She was only accepted after exaggerating her pre-war flight time by 100 hours. On her third mission flying in a Yak-1 on September 13, 1942, she scored her first two kills.
Never giving up her femininity, she would dye her hair blonde and place flowers in the cockpit of the plane she flew while serving in the military. Moving up quickly in the military ranks, she and fellow female pilot, Katya Budanova became “free hunters” on February 23, 1943. By June 13, she was appointed flight commander of the 3rd Aviation Squadron within 73rd GvIAP.
Her last mission was on August 1, 1943 when she did not return to her base. Her plane was shot down during a fight with a pair of German bombers. It was rumored that she survived the crash and taken as a prisoner of war, but she was never heard from again. She ended her career with 11-12 solo kills, at least 4 shared kills and a total of 66 combat missions. On May 6, 1990 she was award Litvak Hero of the Soviet Union.