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WASPs - Women Airforce Service Pilots exhibit
WASP exhibit at Combat Air Museum
The WAFS, Womens Auxilliary Ferry Service, were the first Army Air Force division during WWII to recruit women pilots in order to release male pilots for combat. The WAFS would ferry aircraft from factories to air bases. Beginning in Sept 1942, 80 women pilots were hired as Civil service. Their avergage experience was 942 hours flying time. They served well but there were not enough experienced women pilots available. A program to train women pilots was begun (WASP, Women Airforce Service Pilots) and in May 1943 the WAFS were merged into the new WASP with Jackie Cochran as director.

More than 25,000 women applied -- with requirements including a pilot's license and many hours experience. The first class graduated on December 17, 1943. The women had to pay their own way to the training program held at Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas. The instructors were male civilians working for Aviation Enterprise Limited. Of the 1,830 accepted for training, 1,074 received their wings.

The WASP, like the WAFS, was never militarized, and those who served as WASP were considered civil service employees. Despite this, WASPs were trained under military conditions. Flying duties included target towing, ferrying lend lease aircraft, training bombadiers and gunners and testing all kinds of military aircraft.

As the end of WWII neared, enough male military pilots had been trained and General "Hap" Arnold, US Army Air Force commander, under pressure from the press and in Congress, disbanded and deactivated the WASP program in December 1944. The women had to pay their own way home. WASPs flew about 77 different types of WWII era planes and flew 60 million miles in operations with 38 killed.

WASP Flying a Transport plane
WASPs as Bombadier & Gunner trainers WASP flying Lend Lease aircraft
Entrance to Aviation Enterprises Limited, Texas WASPs flying bombers WASP planning & training
Planes flown by the WASPs Planes flown by the WASPs Planes flown by the WASPs
WASP Honorable Discharge certificate
 
Link to The National WASP WWII Museum
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