“Women weren’t doctors, lawyers, engineers. I could be a nurse, a librarian or a teacher. Those were my choices. And if it wasn’t for the war and the fact that they were so short of pilots that they condescended to let us enter the sanctum sanctorum. And they let us know that. They let us in because they needed us. They needed pilots.”
– Kaddy Steele, WASP 1942-1944
From 1942 to 1944, more than 1,000 women were trained to ferry aircraft, test planes, instruct male pilots, and tow targets for anti-aircraft artillery practice. The women came from all socioeconomic backgrounds: teachers, nurses, secretaries, factory workers, waitresses, students, housewives, debutantes, actresses, even a Ziegfield chorus girl.
Margaret Callihan gets out of a plane at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, TX. Photo courtesy of The Woman’s Collection, Texas Woman’s University.
On the surface, their differences seemed vast, but knew they all shared one commonality ‚ a passion for flying.
“We thought we’d died and gone to heaven,” WASP Caro Bayley Bosca said. “We would have done it for free. It was hot, we were tired, we were sticky half the time, but we were having a ball because we had those airplanes and we all loved to fly.”
They were pioneers, and as such they often faced disbelief and resentment from male officers. Nonetheless, the female pilots were fearless and committed. Thirty-eight women would be killed in the line of duty.
Here are some fantastic pictures of these true heroes. Hope you are having a great week friends!