Violet Cowden flew P-51 Mustangs and other World War II fighter airplanes as a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP).
She was one of 1,074 women pilots who performed a variety of duties, including flying new planes from factory assembly lines to embarkation ports, thus freeing male counterparts for combat duties.
Cowden never had to bail out of a disabled plane but always wanted to know what it felt like, she said recently.
On her 76th birthday last October, Cowden went for her first sky dive, hoping to capture that experience. She jumped in tandem with an instructor.
"It was just what I imagined it would be," she said. "It was like I did it a thousand times."
Cowden, of Huntington Beach, and five other prominent area women will be guest speakers Wednesday when the Democratic Club of west Orange County commemorates Women's History Month.
"They all have made a difference in their communities," Sally J. Alexander, a founding president of the club, said of the speakers. "They serve as role models and an inspiration for young women."
The women will discuss their experiences and then cite an unusual episode from women's history, Alexander said.
Other speakers at the public meeting will be Huntington Beach Mayor Grace Winchell; Jean Forbath, founder of Share Our Selves, a nonprofit poverty relief organization in Costa Mesa; Zita Wessa, chairwoman of the Fountain Valley Planning Commission and a business owner; Barbara Sulzbach, founding president of the Garden Grove Community Adult Day Care Center and a Garden Grove Water Corp. commissioner; and Charmayne S. Bohman, a member of the Westminster City Council and a former trustee in the Huntington Beach Union High School District.
The meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the community room of Fidelity Federal Bank, Newland Center, 19900 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach.