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WWII WASP - Women Airforce Service Pilots

WASP: Women Airforce Service Pilots - World War II American female aviators.
Latest hand-picked WWII news.

Female WWII pilot Tex Meachem takes to the skies again in an AT-6
Every person is filled with stories, and for Tex Meachem, the roar of a propeller is one that tells hers. Her home shows hints of her past: a teddy bear dressed as a pilot, old photographs of her in a jump suit. While men were shipped overseas to fight in World War 2, the women held down the fort back home. Meachem was one of a handful of women who pioneered the skies as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs. She was one of approximately 175 surviving Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) who shared the Congressional Gold Medal for their WW2 service.

WASP pilot Margaret Kerr Boylan flew military planes men were too afraid to fly
Margaret Kerr Boylan was among the first women to participate in the Women Airforce Service Pilots. "Some men were refusing to fly certain planes (P-39s, B-26s) because they said they had a lot of bugs and were killing people. They had us fly the planes and that way they shamed the men into flying them."

WWII WASP recalls: Men put sugar in fuel tank or cut the wires to stop female pilots from flying military planes
Millicent Peterson Young is one of the few surviving Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs. Some of the men the WASPs worked with didn't want women flying military planes - they would put sugar in their fuel tanks, or cut the wires on their planes. "I flew into Carlsbad one time. This young dude comes up in the tanker truck... just as I slid back the canopy and fluffed up my hair, he said: 'What are you doing in there?!' And I said: 'Well, I'm flying the airplane.' He said: 'You should not be flying that airplane! I should be flying that airplane! I'm the man!' And I said: 'Honey, if you were, I would have noticed.'"

The only WASP pilot with camera - Slideshow of colour photographs of WWII female pilots
It's hard not to want to ask questions as you browse Lillian Yonally's World War II-era color photos of American female pilots in uniform. Female pilots in World War II? In color? What was their story? Yonally was one of the young women in the Women Airforce Service Pilots, a military program that trained civilian volunteers to fly planes so men could be sent to overseas for combat duty. Yonally shot the photos from 1943-1944 at Avenger Field where she trained, and Camp Irwin in California, where she would tow targets so gunners on the ground could practice shooting with live ammunition.

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) to receive the Congressional Gold Medal (photos, video)
The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program was formed to fill a pilot shortage. 25,000 women applied, almost 1,100 completed training, and 38 perished in duty. This little-known group of female pilots did everything the men did except flew in combat. They flew test planes, delivered supplies and piloted every aircraft the U.S. Air Force had. In 1977 Congress granted them veteran status, and now they receive Congressional Gold Medal. WASP pilot Carol Brinton Selfridge's memories include everything from the difficulty of finding a uniform for a 6-foot-tall to soloing in a rare snowstorm.

Search begins for last lost World War II female WASP pilot Gertrude Tomkins Silver
The fog appeared in from Santa Monica Bay on Oct. 26, 1944, only 3 hours before Gertrude Tomkins Silver opened the hatch of her P-51 Mustang, one of the Army's fastest aircraft. The plane left from a little strip called Mines Field, bound for a 3-day journey to New Jersey, where it would be placed on a cargo vessel and shipped to UK to fight WW2's last battles against the Third Reich. It would be 4 days before anyone realized Silver's plane crashed off the coast of California after takeoff. Of the 38 WASPs who lost their lives, she's the only one unaccounted for.

World War II-era female pilots granted congressional medal
President Obama signed a measure awarding the 300 surviving WWII Women Airforce Service Pilots - known as WASPs, the first women to fly US military aircraft - the Congressional Gold Medal. "The Women Airforce Service Pilots answered their America's call in a time of need while blazing a trail for the brave women who have given ... so much in service to this nation since." WASPs flew 60 million miles in every type of aircraft: from the PT17 and AT6 trainers, to fast attack planes like the A24 and A25 and heavy bombers like B17 and B29s. Earning $250 a month, the women were not officially part of the military, never getting benefits or honors.

Honoring WASPs - World War II female pilots
It was a strange work for women at the time. But for Rosa Lea Fullwood Meek Dickerson, flying was a way of life. She began flying in her early teens at her father's flight school. By her early twenties, she had made aviation history as part of the first group of women to fly military aircraft for the U.S., the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). When their country went to war, the WASP reported for duty. Dickerson was one of the 1,102 women who served as WASP, flying every sort of aircraft in the U.S. to allow male pilots be assigned for combat duty. The WASP flew 60 million miles for their country during the program's short tenure, from 1942 to Dec. 20, 1944.

Women Airforce Service Pilots may be recognized for their efforts in World War II
Florene Miller Watson recalls white-knuckle flights on WW2 military aircraft: "We did not have radar, and I didn't have any help on the ground. I navigated with a compass that jiggled around when the plane bumped a little, an outdated map and a wristwatch." Watson is one of 300 surviving WASPs (1102 female pilots served) who may be recognized for their WW2 efforts. "Their service paved the way for all women who serve valiantly in the military today," said Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who introduced a bill, co-sponsored by the female members of the Senate, to award the women the Congressional Gold Medal.

World War II WASPs reflect on roles as aviation pioneers
3 members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots recalled their WW2 life as part of Squadron Officer College Warrior Symposium series March 26 at Polifka Auditorium. --- Dawn Seymour (one of 13 women qualified to fly the B17 bombers) was one of 5 inductees into the Women In Aviation History, Int. Pioneer Hall of Fame. "One flight we were doing figure-8s when suddenly the number-3 engine caught fire. We put the fire out and continued the training mission. I knew this [B17] was the plane for me." She later went to the Florida Everglades to train gunners for the D-Day: A B-26 Marauder would pull a cloth, and gunner trainees would fire at it with color coded bullets.

3 WASP veterans will share their stories at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City
They weren't girls, as most men referred to them. The Fifinellas were aviators in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) who proved their valor through gender barriers during the height of World War Two. While the military and most history books disregarded their feats, Walt Disney provided them with a memorable moniker: a logo of a cartoon gremlin called Fifinella, a superhero ready to go to war. It was plastered on WASP stationery, flight jackets and buildings. The special squadron - set up in 1942 by aviator Jacqueline Cochran - transported, tested and towed planes during training and taught cadets to fly.

WASP pilot recalls her time in WWII service
Betty Jo Reed was a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, a unique corps of female pilots who were trained by the Army Air Forces to fly military aircraft during World War II. The training took place at an airfield called Avenger Field in Sweetwater, TX. 1,074 girls graduated and earned the WASP title. During the war, WASP pilots flew 60 million miles of operational flights from aircraft factories to ports of embarkation and military bases, towing targets for live anti-aircraft artillery exercise, simulating strafing missions and transporting cargo. "I was assigned to a unit in Mississippi... the boys there made it pretty clear we weren't wanted."

WASP World War II test pilot Betty Jane Williams
Betty Jane Williams, who joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots, a group that flew noncombat missions during WW2, and served as a test pilot, has passed away. The war effort "needed everybody. An airplane ... only responds to skill, and I was bitten by the aviation bug." She earned her pilot's license in a civilian training program in 1941. In Jan 1944 she returned to the cockpit with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) and flew "wrecked planes that had been repaired to make sure they were airworthy." The women wore uniforms and piloted 78 types of military aircraft, but when the program ended in Dec 1944 they were denied military benefits.

World War II female pilots travel back to training site in Texas
More than a decade before World War II the War Department thought about using women pilots, but the head of the Army Air Corps called it "utterly unfeasible" because women were too "high strung." By 1942 the War Department thought about the idea again, after it was renewed by female aviator Jacqueline Cochran in a letter to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. On Sept. 15, 1942, the Army set up a women's pilot training base, first at Houston, then at Sweetwater. 20,000 women applied, one of them Betty Jo Reed. She called the Pentagon in 1943 after seeing a magazine article about the WASP program and got Cochran on the phone.

WASP pilot Margaret Ray Ringenberg, who dropped "Japan Surrenders" leaflets, dies
Aviation pioneer Margaret Ray Ringenberg, who recently competed the 2312-mile Air Race Classic, died aged 87. She joined the WASPs in 1943, became a flight instructor in 1945 and began racing in 1957. Ringenberg announced WWII's end in 1945 to Fort Wayne residents by dropping 56,000 "Japan Surrenders!" leaflets from a plane - a radio station hired her to make the "news drop" because city newspapers were on strike. Tom Brokaw spent an entire chapter of "The Greatest Generation" on Ringenberg. When testing the space shuttle simulator NASA instructors told that most pilots crash the first few times - But Ringenberg landed faultlessly each time she tried.

Nancy Love And The WASP Ferry Pilots Of World War II by Sarah Byrn Rickman
Nancy Harkness Love was born at the right time, and the wrong time, in history. The first woman pilot to be certified to fly the P-51 Mustang and, with Betty Gillies, the B-17 Flying Fortress, she was one of the key female figures in WW2 aviation. As the Commander of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), Love and her fellow pilots aided the Army Air Transport Ferrying Division move aircrafts from point A to B. Fighting public perception and sparring with Jacqueline Cochran, she showed that the air was gender-blind. Yet like so many others, she found little opportunity after her service.

WASP - Women Airforce Service Pilots
When America entered WWII on Dec. 7, 1941, pilots headed for Europe, and there was a need for someone to do the flying at home. In late 1942 the Army Air Forces began a female pilots program under General Henry Arnold. Jacqueline Cochran, the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic, was set up as director. 25,000 women applied, 1,830 were accepted and 1,074 earned their wings. The consensus of station commanders was that WASP were more capable than male pilots. 38 WASP died in the line of duty, but the AAF refused them military honors, and their families had to pay to have their bodies sent home.

Liz Strohfus shares story of being a WASP in World War II
Gold B-24 bombers dangled from her ears. Pinned to her blue suit was a set of silver wings, proving she finished the WWII Women Airforce Service Pilot training. Becoming a WASP was natural, as she was fond of heights as a child: "If I couldn’t find a tree, I’d sit up on a rooftop." Only 1,800 of the 25,000 who applied [for WASP program] were accepted, and only 1,000 got their wings. Strohfus flew military trainers like the PT-19, BT-13, and AT-6. She went on to fly the B-26 Marauder, B-17 and the P-39 Airacobra. The attitude was "women couldn’t fly those airplanes, it takes a big man to fly. Well, we showed them."

World War II Fly Girls Exhibit - WASP: Women Airforce Service Pilots
In Sept. 1942 1830 women paid their own ways to Texas to learn to fly "the Army way." The Women Airforce Service Pilots became the first women in history to fly America's military aircraft. The Mayborn Museum Complex is bringing their memory back to life through "Wings Across America Presents: Fly Girls of WWII Exhibit." The pilot group was formed because of the U.S. Army Air Forces' desperation for more pilots after severe U.S. losses. Nancy Parrish began working on "Wings Across America" to promote awareness of the history of WASP. There are 400 former female pilots alive today. She has interviewed 110 of them.

Female World War II aviator donates aircraft to Pearson Air Museum
Jan Wood, who sold her accordion during WWII to pay for lessons so she could fly airplanes in the war effort, made her last flight into Vancouver to gave her favorite airplane to Pearson Air Museum. It wasn’t just any airplane: It was the 1953 model Cessna that in 1956 and 1957 she flew solo around the world. She is a member of an exclusive club, the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots, the first women in history to fly American military aircraft. While male pilots flew into combat, the WASP shuttled airplanes all over the US.

Sara Payne Hayden: one of the first female pilots in U.S. Army
It was World War II and Sara Payne Hayden wanted something unheard of: to fly military planes. She was one of the few women to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots, the first female pilots in the US armed forces. Her task: to test-fly previously damaged planes to make sure that they were ready for the men headed for combat. "We did things the men weren't expected to do," said Hayden, who still fits into her petite 62-year-old navy blue WASP uniform. Thirty-eight WASPs were killed during the war. Only about 350 of the 1,074 WASPs, who flew within the US for the Army Air Corps, are still alive.

US Women Pilots in World War II Struggle to Tell Their Stories
During World War II, more than 1,000 women were trained as military pilots. While they were not allowed to be combat pilots, they flew all sorts of missions. But their story was a classified secret for over three decades. On the 60th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe, VOA Producer Zulima Palacio found two women determined to tell their story and keep it alive. The day Deanie Bishop turned 21, she applied to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots, known as WASP. It was 1942, and the middle of WWII. "Our basic function was to fly the missions to relieve male pilots for combat."

Female pilots were World War II's "best-kept secret"
Theirs was among the untold stories of World War II - an elite squad of pilots soaring through the skies in PT-19s and other planes as the first group of American women trained to fly military aircraft. About a thousand women flew as members of Women Airforce Service Pilots units during the war. Fewer than 500 are still alive, by one estimate. From 1942 to 1944, women from all walks of life were trained to ferry aircraft, test planes, transport cargo and even tow targets so male cadets on the ground could practice shooting at moving objects. 38 women pilots lost their lives.

Women's Airforce Service Pilots with the US Air Weather Service
Women's roles in the military may not have started at Offutt, but the Air Force Weather Agency was here when women stepped forward to serve their country. The Air Weather Service was one of the first military agencies to use military women as pilots during WW II. In early 1943, the first enlisted Women's Army Corps women were assigned to stateside weather units and qualified as observers through on-the-job training. One class of women observers went through the forecasting school at Chanute Field, Ill. Five graduated in September 1944.