Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Female Veterans Day Two - Pilots

The U.S. Air Transport Command formed the WAFS, Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron in 1942. These women remained civilians but flew military planes in the United States.

The WFTD, Women’s Flying Training Detachment was established to train pilots. These women were treated as military personnel, complete with morning reveille, but never actually became members of the military. Through this unit, 1,074 women were taught to fly.

Confused? Just wait. In August 1943 the WFTD and the WAFS were merged and became the WASPs, Women’s Air Force Service Pilots. Now they’re cooking with gas. The WASPs flew every airplane in the Air Force inventory. And get this. Male pilots were worried about flying the Superfortress, which had not performed problem-free in testing. So, two WASPs took one on a tour of air bases. Apparently the feeling was if the women would fly it the men would be convinced. It worked. WASPS flew 60 million miles during WWII and thirty-eight WASPs were killed in the line of duty. And I'd never heard of them.

Read More:
Centennial of Flight Commission: Women in the Military in World War II
Graphic Credit Conrad Wing Collection Online

Scrapbook owned by the library:
Women in the WAVES, SPARS, MARINES, WAFS and WASPS, 1942-1945 / Des Moines Public Library, comp.

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