Hard to believe it, but there are still a few people out there who don’t know the story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). These women, 1,104 who made the cut, volunteered for duty during World War II, and flew every aircraft that was manufactured for the fight, from trainers to bombers to fighters. They delivered aircraft from factories, ferried aircraft all over North America, towed targets for gunnery training and tested aircraft to make sure they were safe before they were deployed in battle overseas.
Women Airforce Service Pilots
“When I first started flying, I realized this was a lot easier than I thought, despite what the men said. In my humble opinion, girls make great pilots, and the best engineers.” – Patty Wagstaff.
Methinks the lady is onto something, but she already knows that.
WAI honored five new inductees in its Pioneer Hall of Fame at the Women in Aviation conference:
• L. Tammy Duckworth, Black Hawk pilot and current assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs
• Major General Susan Helms, director of plans and policy for the U.S. Strategic Command, a flight-test engineer and a former NASA astronaut
Jean Ross Howard Phelan, a pioneering airplane and helicopter pilot, died early last month at the age of 87. During World War II she helped aviation legend Jackie Cochran run a base for the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She learned to fly under the Civilian Pilot Training program (which later banned women from its ranks) and, in 1954, became only the eighth woman in the U.S. to get her helicopter rating.