I became fascinated with the women who served as pilots in the WASP program during WWII while working on a project in Dayton, Ohio. I had heard of them, but knew very little about their story.
So I picked up the book Amelia Earhart’s Daughters: The Wild And Glorious Story Of American Women Aviators From World War II To The Dawn Of The Space Age by Leslie Haynsworth & David Toomey, which covered not only the story of the WASP program but also the Mercury 13 (did you know 13 women tested and qualified to be astronauts during the Mercury program but were denied the opportunity to participate because they were women?).
Here’s some of what I learned about the Women Airforce Service Pilots program:
- 25,000 – number of women who applied to be part of the program
- 1074 – number of women who graduated and served, along with 28 women in the WAFS
- 60 million – miles they flew during the war – testing planes, ferrying planes to where they were needed, and training
- 78 – the different types of aircraft the WASP flew, including the B-29 bomber
- 38 – number of women who died in service to their country. In most cases, their friends on base had to take up a collection to send their remains home.
- 1979 – the year their role was acknowledged officially and they were given veterans’ status with limited eligibility to veterans benefits.
- 2009 – the year the women who were part of the WASP program were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal
- 2014 – the year the WASP program was recognized in the Tournament of Roses Parade with a float honoring their service.
Walt Disney drew their mascot: Fifinella.
This information was first shared at The Women’s Book for International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month, 2014