The WASP Story
The WASP of World War II forever changed the role women played/play in the military and aviation, by becoming the first women to fly American military aircraft.
The 1,074 WASP made direct, major contributions to the war effort by flying fighter and bomber aircraft from factories to bases, conducting searchlight missions, towing targets for live ammunition practice, and test-piloting new and repaired aircraft. WASP also served as instructors for those men that would go on to become combat pilots. All of which resulted in freeing men for combat, a role that would only come to women decades later.
Though every one of the 1,830 WASP trainees held a private or commercial pilot license, they were required to have 210 flight hours for basic training, instruments, cross country, advanced and multi-engine training. In addition, they were required to take 30 weeks of training in math, physics, navigation and more, for a total of 393 hours of ground school, while simultaneously learning and living the military way of life.
Despite the doubts of many, including military leaders, they flew every type of military aircraft, over 77 models. They logged over 60 million miles.
WASP were not a military unit, as such they received no military benefits. When it was announced in 1976 that the Air Force was going to have women flying military aircraft “for the first time,” the WASP mobilized to gain recognition for their service. WASP received military status in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medals in 2009.