Behind the Wings ®
The Podcast – S4, Episode 33

In celebration of Women’s History Month, dive into the story of the first female Air Force pilots and their roles during World War II.

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Today’s episode tells us about the lives and history of The Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP. The WASP helped the United States domestic war effort by ferrying aircraft, towing targets for live anti-aircraft gun practice, simulating strafing missions, transporting cargo, and so much more. Plus, hear a special story about the first two women to fly the B-29 Superfortress. This one is going to be cool!

Three Women Airforce Service Pilots
Key Takeaways:
  • Pilot Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran and test-pilot Nancy Harkness Love wanted to help the war effort in the United States and worked with the military to start the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS). Eventually, both programs were merged to form the WASP.
  • Even with strict requirements to enter the WASP, more than 25,000 women applied, 1,830 were accepted, and 1,074 graduated.
  • The WASP trained in Sweetwater, TX at Avenger Field where they stayed on base in the barracks and trained most days.
  • Two WASP, Dorthea Johnson and Dora Dougherty, were chosen by General Hap Arnold to fly the newly arrived B-29 Superfortress in a demonstration for future male pilots. The male pilots didn’t want to fly this airplane due to engine concerns, and the WASP was meant to show that “if a woman can do it, so can a man.” They flew the B-29 successfully several times.
  • In 1944, the WASP were shut down to make room for men returning from war who needed the jobs.
  • Years later, in the 1970s, the Women Airforce Service Pilots were finally given military and veteran status, officially cementing their history.
Behind the Wings Season 4

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Behind the Wings Season 4

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