During the WW, the United States were in a serious shortage of pilots so the government created an experimental paramilitary aviation organization – the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).
First, there were the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) organized in 1942 and in 1943 both were merged to create the WASP organization.
Over 25,000 women applied but only 1,074 were selected to become pilots.
During the graduation ceremony for the last WASP training class in 1944, the General of the Army and General of the Air Force – Henry “Hap” Arnold stated in his speech that he wasn’t sure “whether a slip of a girl could fight the controls of a B-17 in heavy weather.” He said that now, in 1944 he is convinced that women can fly as good as men.
These women flew over 60 million miles in all kinds of military aircraft. In 1977, the organization acquired a veteran status, waiting until 2009 to be awarded with the Congressional Gold Medal.
When the training ended up, the women pilots were stationed at 122 air bases across the States. Only those with exceptional skills for aircraft control were permitted to test rocket-propelled planes, pilot jet-propelled planes and work with radar-controlled targets. While serving in the war, 38 WASP pilots lost their lives in accidents.
For further discussion of these amazing women, see TheVintageNews
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