The Morning of December 7th , 1941
After two weeks at sea while hiding inside of an ocean crossing storm front,,,all six of Japan's first-line aircraft carriers, Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku, and Zuikaku with over 420 combat aircraft, reached a point about 280 miles north Hawaii in the early morning hours.
This group of flat-tops was supported by two battleships, a few cruisers, several destroyers, and oil tankers to fuel the ships during their passage across the Pacific. Several large Japanese submarines, five of them carrying mini attack subs were already in place just off the Hawaiian coast and in the mouth of Pearl Harbor.
The first attack wave of over 180 aircraft, including torpedo planes, high-level bombers, dive bombers and fighters, was launched in the darkness and headed for Pearl Harbor. After the first wave was launched, a second attack wave of similar size, but with more dive bombers and no torpedo planes, was brought up from the carriers' hangar decks and launched towards Pearl harbor and various Army facilities around the island.
And the first American aircraft shot down at Pearl Harbor????
A 65 hp, J-3 Piper Cub being flown by a solo student pilot. He just happened to be an active duty Navy enlisted guy, flying a base flying-club aircraft before his duty hours and he was in his working uniform.
For some reason his instructors required a parachute, which works out well for him when Japanese Zeros shot off his engine. He parachuted safely and was walking back to town carrying his parachute when he was seen by various civilians. Unfortunately they reported him as a Japanese paratrooper.
Also that morning a female flight instructor
Cornelia Clark Fort (1919 -1943) and her student successfully out-maneuvered attacking Japanese fighters and managed to make an emergency landing.
In Jaunary 1942, Jacqueline Cochran invited Miss Fort to join the group of women flying for the Royal Air Force Air Transport Auxiliary. Fort, however, was still awaiting evacuation from Hawaii. When she finally arrived back in Nashville to begin instructing for the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP), she was in demand as a speaker and was even featured in a short war movie.
She was the second woman to volunteer for the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (the WAFS, which later merged into the WASPs, or Women Airforce Service Pilots), On a routine ferrying flight in 1943, Pilot Fort died at the controls of a bomber when another plane struck hers.
She was the first woman pilot to die in the line of duty for the U.S. military (the WASPs were granted retroactive military status in 1977.) A marker at the Cornelia Fort Airport in Tennessee bears this quote from the pilot: "I am grateful that my one talent, flying, was useful to my country."