Pearl Armstrong, Riveter and Flight Line Electrician

By Washington Women in Trades

Pearl Armstrong, riveter and flight line electrician

Pearl Armstrong is from a tiny town five miles south of Udall, KS. She graduated from Southwestern College with a teaching degree, and was teaching elementary school at Friends University when WWII broke out.

In the spirit of the time, she wanted to help and the money was good, too. She moved to Wichita and worked at Boeing as a riveter on the B-52 Stratofortress. After World War II ended, she left teaching behind and stayed at Boeing. When she was offered a transfer to Seattle for a lot more money, she went for it. Without knowing a soul, Pearl took herself on a big western adventure. She became a Flight Line Electrician, working on the electrical systems of the raceways (she ran the electrical from the front of the plane to the back). She stayed on the job for 40 years.

One day, during a trip to the dentist, Pearl met Nathaniel, a single dad who was there having his four kid’s teeth cleaned. There must be something about the spark of a dental office, because before she knew it, at 43 years old, she had a husband and 4 young kids. Pearl was a brave woman–the youngest was only four! They married in 1961.

She and Nathaniel loved to travel and every year, they’d work 11 months and take a one-month holiday. Trip planning was easy. They let the kids choose the place and then they’d jump in the car and go. They’d been to every state in the union except Hawaii. Florida, California, and Texas were wonderful, but Pearl loved Denver for its mile-high mountains and Milwaukee for its warm-hearted people.

Pearl was a baseball fan and while she thought Seattle’s Safeco Field was lovely, she was partial to the old Kingdome. More than just about anything, though, she took great pride in their family–she so enjoyed watching her dear inherited children grow up. She and Nathaniel were blessed with 8 grandkids and 3 greats.

Pearl passed away on December 29, 2011.

To find out how you can become an apprentice and launch your career in aerospace or manufacturing, visit AJAC’s Get StartedSection.

Washington Women in Trades interviewed and wrote this story of Pearl Armstrong.