“The Nazis called them “Night Witches” because the whooshing noise their plywood and canvas airplanes made reminded the Germans of the sound of a witch’s broomstick. The Russian women who piloted those planes, onetime crop dusters, took it as a compliment.”
“Any German pilot who downed a “witch” was awarded an Iron Cross.”
“The pilots’ skill prompted the Germans to spread rumors that the Russian women were given special injections and pills to “give us a feline’s perfect vision at night,” Ms. Popova told Mr. Axell. “This, of course, was nonsense.”” [Emphasis mine]
“I sometimes stare into the blackness and close my eyes,” Ms. Popova said in 2010. “I can still imagine myself as a young girl, up there in my little bomber. And I ask myself, ‘Nadia, how did you do it?’ ”
Interviews with Ms. Popova appear in Operation Typhoon: Hitler’s March on Moscow, October 1941 and Flying for Her Country: The American and Soviet Women Military Pilots of World War II.