In 1942, the United States trained women to fly military aircraft so male pilots could be released for combat duty overseas. The women of this experimental program were called Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Comprised of approximately 1,000 civilian volunteers, the WASP flew military aircraft - including B-26 and B-29 bombers - long distances from factories to military bases across the country testing newly overhauled planes. By war’s end, they had flown 60 million miles.
Women Airfare Service Pilots were tasked with delivery of new planes, instructing male cadet pilots, delivering planes in need of repair to maintenance facilities, testing new and repaired planes, training troops for anti-aircraft gunnery, simulating bombing runs and transporting government officials.
The vital role these women played in WWII was largely ignored by the U.S. government for more than 30 years. WASPs weren’t granted veterans’ military status until 1977.
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