personnel take, and began Army Air Force flight training at the Municipal Airport in Houston, Texas, Nov. 16, 1942. Three months later the program was moved to Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas. In just over two years, a total of 1074 trainees completed seven months of AAF flight training, graduated and, together with 28 WAFS (Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Service) became WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots), first women in history to fly America's military aircraft.
"We worked like dogs in dirty, greasy coveralls. We had to break down an engine, we had some tough ground school classes, but oh, the flying was so wonderful." WASP Doris Tanner, 44-W-4
parachutes for the last time, everything the women pilots did was scrutinized, measured and recorded.
From the first day of training to the day the WASP hung up their Army Their health, weight, strength,
skill, stamina, patience and perseverance were tested. Every time a WASP stepped into a new kind of aircraft, or flew a new kind of mission, it was a groundbreaking experiment on behalf of all women pilots. As every WASP knew, if one WASP failed, the whole program would be at risk.
" The CO of Flight Operations, Camp Davis took a very dim view of women in the military and especially those flying airplanes. His welcoming words were, "Both you and these planes are expendable. Either accept that fact or pack up and go home." 2 WASP were killed at Camp Davis." WASP Marion Hanrahan, 43-W-3
The WASP DID NOT FAIL--in fact, they EXCEEDED beyond all expectations. In two years, at 120 air bases across America, WASP flew over 60 million miles, in every type aircraft and on every type mission any male AAF pilot flew, except combat. WASP attended Pursuit School and Officer Candidate School. They flew strafing, night tracking and smoke laying missions. They towed targets for air-to-air and ground-to- air gunnery practice, with gunnery recruits firing live ammunition. They ferried planes and transported cargo, personnel and parts of the atomic bomb. They instructed, flew weather missions and test flew repaired aircraft. WASP even flew aircraft that some male pilots refused to fly, including the B-26 "Widow Maker" and the B-29 "Super Fortress," to prove to the male pilots they were safe to fly.
"When we landed at Dodge City, the sergeant drove us by what he called, 'the bone yard'—four B-26s had 'cracked up' within the previous month, killing the entire crews. He said, 'If you girls have any sense, you'll turn right around and go back where you came from, because that thing is a killer.' Well, of course, we didn't do that. The Commanding Officer said, 'If you stay, and if you pass, you will be the first women in the history of the
WITH NO REGRETS article by Nancy Parrish for “Salute To Freedom” Spring 2008
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