Lydia L. Kenny, 59, a pilot with the WASP, the women pilots organization of the Army Air Forces during World War II, and a local real estate investor, died of cancer Thursday at Sibley Memorial Hospital.
A specialist in aerial acrobatics, Mrs. Kenney was recruited from college, where she was enrolled in a government-sponsored flying program, in the late 1930s by the famous aviator Jacqueline Cochran to become one of about 1,000 women pilots called WASPs (for Women's Air Force Service Pilots).
The women were trained to replace Army officers in highly specialized duties. Although never militarized, they flew targets, participated in ground forces war games, flew tactical planes on simulated bombing and strafing missions and ferried planes.
In 1978, Mrs. Kenny and other WASP associates joined forces with Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), Rep. Corrine C. (Lindy) Boggs (D-La.) Rep. Margaret M. Heckler (R-Mass.) and retired Air Force Col. Bruce Arnold in successfully lobbying Congress to recognize the WASP as Army Air Force Service Pilots with full veterans' status.
A native of Dresden, Germany, Mrs. Kenny came to this country with her parents at the age of 10. The family settled in Brooklyn, N.Y., and she later earned a bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College.
During the 1950s, she was the owner of The Transworld Language Service here. She later worked as a real estate investor, owning and managing properties in Maryland and Virginia.
Survivors include her husband, Gerard T., of the home in Bethesda; a daughter, Aleta, and a son, Richard, both of Alexandria, and one grandson.
The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Montgomery County Cancer Memorial Fund.