Barbara Manchester was born on October 17, 1921, in Batavia, New York. She earned her Private Pilot License through the Civilian Pilot Training Program in late 1941, while attending Russell Sage College in Troy, New York. Barbara completed an additional 200 flying hours and received her Commercial Pilot License in late 1942, and graduated from Russell College in June 1943. She then joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) on August 5, 1943, and completed Army flight training and was awarded her pilot wings at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, on February 11, 1944 (WASP Class 44-W-1). Her first assignment was as an A-24 Banshee and UC-78 Bobcat pilot with Headquarters Army Air Force Weather Wing at Ashville, North Carolina, from February to May 1944, followed by service as a UC-78 and C-45 Expeditor pilot with Headquarters 23rd Weather Region at Kansas City, Missouri, from May 1944 until the WASPS were disbanded on December 20, 1944. During this time she accumulated 2,500 flying hours. She married William Robinson in May 1945, and they had five children together. The WASPS were given official Military Veteran status in 1977, and they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on July 1, 2009, honoring their service during World War II. Barbara Robinson died on November 2, 2012, and was interred in the columbarium at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Tullahoma, Tennessee.
The Bill Authorizing the Award of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots reads:
The President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall make appropriate arrangements for the award, on behalf of the Congress, of a single gold medal of appropriate design in honor of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) collectively, in recognition of their pioneering military service and exemplary record, which forged revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces of the United States of America.