Barbara Kibbee Jayne began flying in 1937. As a child her need to fly had been so ardent that she tried it without benefit
of an aircraft. She and her brother, Troy, would jump off the roof of the garage. Her parents would not allow any of the children
fly until they were 21, so she waited. She earned her license at a California flying school and then set out for work in the
Jayne joined the Ninety-Nines in 1938 and remained with the organization until her death. She graduated from the Ryan School
of Aviation in San Diego in Feb. 1938, earned a commercial rating and flew for Ryan Company as a check pilot. The following
year, she signed with the Civilian Private Training Program for Renselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, she became
the first woman instructor for the U.S. program and taught at the Glens Falls Airport.
In 1941 Jayne was coaxed by Grumman executive Allison “Bud” Gillies to be chief instructor at the exclusive Aviation Country
Club of Long Island. Taking the chief instructor position, she flew with A. de Seversky, Amelia Earhart Putnam, Chance Vought,
and Walter Beech, as well as Cornelius Vanderbuilt Whitney and other society people. During the war, Jayne joined the Civil
Air Patrol and spotted quite a few enemy submarines off the coast. She also became a courier pilot at Grumman, carrying parts
and workers in transport and passenger planes.
The following year she flew for Grumman Aircraft in Bethpage, New York. In July 1943, she checked out in Grumman aircraft’s
F6F Hellcat, the fighter considered the backbone of the Naval Air War in the Pacific, becoming a full-fledged factory production
test pilot. She remained a test pilot until the end of World War II. She was so small that she had to use cushions to help
her reach the controls on the Navy Hellcats. Once at the controls she flew five to six times daily doing snap rolls, slow
rolls, dives and racing the F6F at speeds of 400 mph.