Real-Life ‘Rosie the Riveter’ Gets Flight of a Lifetime

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MATHER FIELD--

When you're 90 years old, like Eileen Lyda, time is precious - and doing the things you've always wanted to do takes on a whole new meaning.

Long ago, Lyda helped build the iconic B-17 bombers of WWII. She installed rivets, working inside the wings of the massive planes. She was a real-life Rosie the Riveter.

Lyda dropped out of high school and signed on to the war effort with her mother, Edythe. They made $45 every two weeks, riveting and bucking away at the same time at the Sacramento Air Depot.

Lyda's small frame landed her the toughest job on the B-17, inside the wing.

"It was like sitting in a 50-gallon drum and letting some pound on the end, the outside of it," she told FOX40.

It was noisy and hot, but Lyda didn't complain. There was something she did want - a ride in a plane she worked so hard on.

"When I got out there, the pilot said, 'No women allowed. Sorry,'" Lyda said.

Seventy years later, the pilot had a different response.

"My dad flew these in the war for more than 50 missions, and flew a total of 27-hundred hours in the B-17, so thank you for your service," he said to her.

The B-17 is not known for its comfort, but Lyda enjoyed every seconds of her 25-minute flight above the valley.

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