World War II Comes to America (02:57)
Cornelia Fort was the first US pilot to encounter the Japanese air fleet. "Bee" Falk Haydu and "Tack" Blake recall the attack on Pearl Harbor. "Jackie" Cochran and Nancy Harkness Love submitted proposals to the U.S. Army Air Force to allow women to fly in non-combat missions.
Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (02:59)
General Harold Lee George created the WAFS on September 10th 1942 and assigned Love command of the 28 women. "Hap" Arnold appointed Cochrin to create the Women's Flying Training Detachment. In August 1943, WAFS and WFTD merged into the Women Airforce Service Pilots.
First WASP Training Site (05:13)
Former members of WASP discuss basic training in Houston, Texas. Over 50% of the women did not pass. Walt Disney agreed to allow WASP to use the image of Fifinella, a female gremlin, as their mascot.
Heartbreaking Consequences (02:41)
Former members of WASP discuss plane crashes and deaths. Over 38 women died during the war effort. Janet Simpson recalls how the members of her unit took up a collection for a friend's burial because the military did not provide any benefits to the family.
Mechanical Failures and Close Calls (04:25)
Former WASP members describe electrical failures and fear of washing out of the program during solo flights. One Lieutenant asked a pilot to fall into a death spin. One civilian and one army male officer tested WASP at each phase of training.
Deployed to Different Tasks (02:42)
WASP members recall how upon graduation the army sent them to different airfields. Some tested questionable planes, instructed new pilots, ferried planes from factories to military bases, and flew Army personnel around the country.
Ferrying Flight (03:56)
Blake recalls seeing black smoke pouring out of her engine and deciding to continue towards her destination instead of bailing out. Over 50% aircraft built during the war were ferried by WASP. While ferrying a B13 to an airbase, Cornelia Fort became the first female aviator to die in the line of duty.
Secret Missions (04:03)
General Arnold created "Operation Aphrodite" to fly drones into German B-2 rockets. Snapp recalls being assigned to the mission and serving as a safety pilot in case of malfunction. Learn about the different types of planes that WASP flew.
Early 1944 (03:00)
Civilian male pilots lobbied against granting WASP military status. Former members discuss discrimination and the smear campaign. Arnold and Cochran pushed for the bill to pass, but it was defeated in the house.
WASP Disbanded (04:55)
The program was deactivated and the army did not grant its participants honors or veteran's benefits. WASP members recall Cochran and Arnold explaining the decision. Airlines refused to employ women as pilots.
End of the War (02:21)
Haydu started a business ferrying planes to their destinations. The Order of Fifinella began as a way to help former WASP members find employment and organize reunions, but grew into a political organization dedicated to helping members achieve veteran status.
Grass Roots Organization (03:55)
A 1976 Air Force press release stated that it was training the first women to fly military aircraft in the U.S. Barry Goldwater advocated for the organization because neither the Air Force nor the Army would claim jurisdiction. WASP spoke to reporters about experiences from World War II to gain national recognition.
Lobbying to Get Bill Passed (03:45)
Known as the "Widowmaker" the Army sent WASP to test fly the B29 Superfortress in front of male pilots. Goldwater attached the WASP veteran status bill to HR. 5083; a veteran education bill he knew Congress would pass.
WASP Recognized for Contributions (04:40)
In March 2010, Congress honored WASP service during World War II with Congressional Gold Medal of Honor. Deannie Bishop Parrish accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
Credits: Silver Wing, Flying Dreams: The Complete Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots. (01:43)
Credits: Silver Wing, Flying Dreams: The Complete Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots.
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