Shadow in the Cloud: Is Maude Garrett Based on a Real WWII Female Pilot?

Chloë Grace Moretz helms the narrative in the action-adventure film ‘Shadow in the Cloud,’ which follows a female pilot on a bizarre mission as World War II unfolds in full force in the 1943 period setting. The protagonist, Maude Garrett, finds herself on a B-17 Flying Fortress, dubbed Fool’s Errand, with a classified haul to transport. However, it becomes clear that Maude’s attempts at demanding respect aboard the vessel are in vain on account of the misogynist all-male crew accompanying her on the flight. Yet, things worsen further when an evil creature of the night targets the aircraft, rendering Maude to fend for her own life and survival.

The film revolves around Maude’s unique experience as a female pilot thrust into a service plane full of men who constantly underestimate and belittle her skills. The narrative’s unravelment brings several other plot details to focus. Yet, the gender dynamic between Maude and her comrades persists. For the same reason, fans are bound to wonder if the story’s protagonist possesses any basis in a real-life female pilot from the time.

Maude Garrett and the Women From World War II

‘Shadow in the Cloud’ brings a blend of genres, presenting an isolated story about a woman’s confrontation with the supernatural, while the storyline utilizes a World War II historical backdrop to raise the stakes. In doing so, the film cements its protagonist, Maude Garrett, to the realm of fictionality while simultaneously extracting inspiration from a part of reality. Therefore, even though the character’s narrative employs the reality of female WWII pilots, she isn’t based on any specific person from the pages of history.

In real life, The United Nations Armed Forces saw the inclusion of 350,000 American women who served in various factions of the military. While it was commonplace for women to take over roles in the infirmary as nurses, it was in World War II that women also started enlisting in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. In fact, when 1942 brought a shortage of pilots in the United States, it led to the formation of the Women Airforce Service Pilots program, where women were trained in piloting aircraft to free male pilots for overseas combat.

Margaret Phelan Taylor, Jacqueline Cochran, and Lillian Yonally are some of the most notable female pilots from the era who served their country during wartime. Even so, despite the presence of women in such military spaces, female pilots had to face significant discrimination from the public as well as their male colleagues. Therefore, while Maude Garrett’s character lacks a basis in any real-life counterparts, her experience as an underlooked and talked-over female pilot remains reminiscent of historical reality.

Furthermore, Maude’s character creation also helped shape her into a realistic individual. In an interview with The Playlist, actress Mortez spoke about the same in relation to Director Roseanne Liang’s contribution to Maude’s character.

“Roseanne [Liang] really knew what she wanted, and she really wanted to make a multifaceted multi-dimensional female heroine who doesn’t make all the best decisions,” said Mortez. “Sometimes she [Maude] makes decisions that ultimately are a bit selfish—she’s not always out for the greater good, you know?” Thus, even though the film’s supernatural elements take Maude’s equally fictitious character out of reality— her authentic storyline infuses a sense of realism into her narrative.

Read More: Shadow in the Cloud: Is Fool’s Errand Based on a Real WWII Plane?