Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP)

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"With the wind and the sand in our eyes; And our goal placed up high in the skies; We are the WASPS who serve the Air Corps so true; We're coming, just watch us ZOOM...down upon you!"

Loes Monk Mackenzie, 43-W-8[1]



Notables Project
... ... ... is Notable.

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was a civilian women pilots' organization, whose members were United States federal civil service employees. Members of WASP became trained pilots who tested aircraft, ferried aircraft, and trained other pilots.

The Women Airforce Service Pilots flew more than 60 million miles on every type of mission except actual combat. Although 38 died in service, more than 30 years passed before Congress recognized WASP as war veterans.[2]

Founded: 5th August 1943
Parent agency: United States Army Air Forces
Employees: 1,830 accepted for training; 1,074 completed training
Awards: Presidential Medal of Freedom


1938 - 1940


23rd September - Jacqueline Cochran wins first place in the Transcontinental Bendix Race.


June - The Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) is established by the United States government. The program provided pilot training across the country and allowed for one woman to be trained for every ten men.[3]

28th September - Jacqueline Cochran, America’s most famous woman pilot, writes to the First Lady, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, that it’s not too soon to begin contemplating the idea that women could fly in non-combat roles and release men pilots for combat duty, should the need ever arise.


May - Nancy Harkness Love, prominent woman pilot, writes Col Olds (Ferrying Command) she knows of 49 women pilots, perhaps 16 more, who have over 1,000 hrs., could ferry aircraft and might take place of commercial pilots who could do military duties. Col Olds passes info on to General Arnold.

June - General Arnold rejects Love’s plan, says Air Corps has no need for women pilots.

15th September - Cochran speaks to a meeting of the 99’s, and suggests there should be a professional Women’s Air Corps.

28th September - Jackie Cochran writes to Eleanor Roosevelt suggesting the establishment of a women's flying division of the Army Air Forces.

1941 - 1944


Early June - Arnold has lunch with Jacqueline Cochran and the Chief. She offers to pilot a Lend-Lease Lockheed "Hudson" bomber to Britain and study the use of British women pilots (suggested by General Arnold) . Lord Beaverbrook authorizes her flight - must first pass Canadian flight test. Male ego check pilot, finally she demands to be passed.

17th June - Cochran becomes first woman to fly a military aircraft across the Atlantic. Goes to London and looks at 50 women ferrying pilots. Begins formulating plans for American women pilots to join the war effort.

1st July - Cochran comes home from England. Cochran hitched ride on B-17 home from England - passes first B-24 flying to England (armed with a single machine gun). Has a press conference when she arrives in United States. She expresses ideas about using American women pilots. President and Mrs. Roosevelt immediately issue her an invitation to come to lunch to discuss it.

2nd July - Cochran has lunch with President and Mrs. Roosevelt. Discusses women in aviation in England and possibility in America. President concludes Cochran must confer with Robert Lovett. Assistant Sec for Air. Gives her a note of introduction and says for Lovett to research plans for an organization of women pilots to serve with the United States Army Air Corps.

3rd July - Cochran meets with Lovett. Explained her concept. Lovett offers her office space as a "tactical consultant" in Ferry Command Headquarters.

4th July - Cochran receives telegram from Col Olds, Ferrying Command. Olds is interested in discussing her investigation of using women pilots in national defense. Requests her to come to his office to discuss it.

Early July - Cochran reports to General Arnold, who introduces her to Col Olds, Olds is Ferry Command CO, with whom she would work for 3 weeks. Cochran checks out CAA files and locates names of every woman pilot in America. Sends questionnaires to 150 commercially rated women pilots.

29th July - Letter and survey to all women holders of licenses.[4][5]

30th July - Cochran submits proposal for a women’s pilot division of the Air Corps Ferrying Command to Arnold. Suggests using women to ferry aircraft and submits it to Col. Olds, Ferrying Command. Olds requests she put together a plan for implementing such a plan.

1st August - Cochran submits plan. Her plan includes tabulations on the CAA card files - names of women pilots - total of about 2100, but few have more than 200 hours, which is what Olds wants for ferrying pilots. Cochran wants separate unit for women, to be headed by a woman, and would take directions directly from General Arnold, same as Col Olds. Olds feels she far oversteps her authority, with specifics of how she feels women should be organized and who would be in charge. Olds disagrees, sends secret report to Arnold.

Late August - Arnold declines Cochran's proposal. Arnold says too few women available and capable of flying trainer aircraft to justify assuming the problems of housing and training them - need to train fighter pilots, not ferry pilots. Also, "use of women pilots serves no military purpose in a country which has adequate manpower at this time." Arnold suggests Cochran accept the British request for American women pilots. Cochran packs up her office and leaves.

4th October - Cochran goes straight to the top. Cochran goes over Col. Olds and writes General Arnold regarding her meeting with President and Mrs. Roosevelt, and requests meeting with him.

28th October - Meeting between Cochran and Arnold. Cochran resubmits proposal. Arnold agrees that Cochran should develop a plan for training women to fly military aircraft.

A few days later - Some American civilian men being used to ferry British planes in England. Need more help - perhaps some women. Arnold telephones Cochran and tells her that this is a chance to show what American women pilots can do. Requests she direct a group of women to England to fly with the British Air Transport Command. She will take the job only if it is clearly understood that when the time comes she will be called on and be free to return from England to direct the work of women pilots at home.

7th December - Attack on Pearl Harbor. Military Strike.

8th December - The United States declares war on Japan.

12th December - Cochran alters draft contract with British Overseas Airways ATA . Sends telegrams to 76 names of experienced women fliers. ~ Must have 300 hours, travel at own expense to New York for interview, and on to Montreal for a physical and flight check ride. If accepted, groups of 5 travel to England for specialized training and serve as civilian auxiliary to the Royal Air Force. Jackie’s list of would - be ATA pilots rises toward the desired number of twenty-five.

December - Col. William H. Tunner given command of Domestic Wing of Ferrying Division.


The United States women begin training to fly military aircraft. [6]

January - General Olds getting desperate for pilots. Resuscitates proposal by Cochran for using women for ferrying duties and advised Cochran he planned to hire women immediately on the same basis as male civilian pilots. Cochran was involved in recruiting American women pilots (at General Arnold's suggestion) with sufficient hours for service with the British. Cochran contacts Arnold about the problem.

18th January - Cochran gets a phone call. Woman pilot accepted to fly to England calls Jackie Cochran in Washington and says she has heard that women pilots are to be hired here in the United States, beginning almost immediately. Source: wife of high official in the Ferry Command. Jackie Cochran calls General Olds - he confirms. Jackie Cochran writes a note to General Arnold and delivers it to his residence. (General Olds plan is in direct conflict with the plan for the woman’s unit in England and would wash out Jackie Cochran as supervisor of women flyers for the United States) .

19th January - General Arnold sends Cochran’s note to General Olds, together with his note: "You will make no plans for hiring women pilots until Cochran has completed her agreement with the British authorities and has returned to the United States." Ferry Command threat banished and revised ATA contract arrives.

24th January - Air Transport Auxiliary Agreement, from the British Air Commission.[7]Girls going to England to sign 18 - month contract. Cochran signs contract that would dissolve if/when the AAF called upon her services. She would return to the United States within 6 months ... She must be in England when first girls arrive.

March - Col. Olds health forces him to retire. Jackie cleared to go to England. The 25 American women pilots follow. Some go via air, some via ship. They train and start flying for Britain.

9th March - Major Love and wife, Nancy Harkness Love, both work for ATC.

18th April - Doolittle Raid also known as the Tokyo Raid. Sixteen North American B-25s commanded by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, take off from USS Hornet (CV-8) and submit an air raid on Tokyo other places on Honshu.

15th May - President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorizes the creation of the Army, Navy and Coast Guard women's auxiliary/reserves. The Army's female auxiliary is called the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, or WAAC; the Navy’s is Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES; and women serving in the Coast Guard Auxiliary are known as SPARs, from the Coast Guard motto: Semper Paratus, Always Ready.[8]

18th May - Tunner takes initial step to hire women pilots. He says to employ 25 women in the ferrying unit. Wants them to be stationed at New Castle and wants them to be 2nd Lt.s under the (still civilian) Women’s Auxiliary Corps.

25th May - General Arnold lands in England, preceding the 8th AF. They want Jackie Cochran to devise a ferrying plan for them. Arnold confers with Cochran about creating an organization of women pilots. Wants her to return to United States to organize. Cochran obligated to finish ferrying plans in England for 8th AF. Will leave for United States as soon as possible. She will be delayed getting back.

2nd June - General Arnold leaves for United States, fully expecting Jackie Cochran to return to United States to supervise a women pilots' program as soon as possible.

June - General Arnold is noted for being ill. Cochran out of country. General George does not know about Arnold dismissing concept of using women and barring it from consideration until Cochran returns. Major Love, while standing at a water cooler, mentions his pilot wife, Nancy, to Colonel William H. Tunner. Later Tunner meets with Nancy Love. Love proposes the development of a small squad of women pilots specifically to ferry aircraft from factories to AAF bases, both in United States and overseas. Women must have a minimum of 500 hours and be used by Ferrying Division exclusively. Tunner writes memo to George. George likes idea of adding women ferry pilots to Tunner’s ferry pilot pool. ATC staff approves of Love to be in charge of women pilots when/if employed. General George and Tunner confer about plans for women fliers. Tunner (at New Castle) details how to utilize women pilots.

11th June - General George tells AAF Chief of Air Staff he wanted to hire women and transfer Nancy Love to Washington to help Tunner with a complete proposal. Love drafts a proposal to hire women.

12th June - Nancy Love tells Tunner she can readily enroll 25 women on short notice. Tunner dictates report to Col. Becker at New Castle Air Base that 25 women pilots will be there 1st August. Sends copy to Hobby at WAAC. Hobby sees no way to incorporate them into WAAC.

18th June - Tunner sends Love’s plan to General George to hire women, the same as men as civilian ferry pilots, with compromises by Love. Lower pay. Women must have 500 hrs compared to 200 for men. Women would be restricted to flying AAF smallest trainers and liaison planes, etc..

End of June - General George mentions Love’s plan to Arnold. Arnold mused - thought might talk to the President - he might want to make any announcement himself because there was so much national interest in using women.

July - Consent from Arnold unnecessary. Ferrying Division had permission to hire civilians, including women.

2nd July - Cochran ceases work with the Am. Wing of the Air Transport Auxiliary, and works as commissioned officer with 8th AF. Studies ferrying service. General Arnold requests she come home. Starts the paperwork.

13th July - Colonel Baker and Nancy Love submit detailed plan to hire women pilots as civilians, with the compromises, to General George.

18th July - General George sends memo to Arnold suggesting women be employed as ferry pilots experimentally.

20th July - General Arnold sent proposal back and directed George to confer with CAA and CAP and provide statistics on the availability of women pilots.

Few days later - General Arnold leaves for England.

August - Nancy Love gathers statistics on women pilots.

3rd September - General George gives Love’s proposal back to General Arnold. Says he could implement it within 24 hours.

5th September - General George mistakenly thought he got a nod from General Arnold. ATC names Love as Director. Directive from Arnolds’ office, (unclear if he seen) "recruit women pilots within 24 hours." Nancy Love sends out first telegrams recruiting women pilots as civilian ferry pilots.(Must have Commercial pilots license, 200hp rating, 500 hours, age 21-35) Cochran about to board airplane in England to come home. She is stopped. Asked to delay. (Later Cochran thinks purposefully delayed).

8th September - Jackie leaves England for home.

10th September - Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron of women pilots (WAFS) formed. They will ferry light military aircraft. Nancy Love was named to be in charge. Love and General George go to Arnold’s office for official announcement to media that she is in charge. Arnold not there. Go to office of Sec War, Stimson. Prematurely, news hits newspapers. Cochran sees it when she lands in New York. She’s furious. Calls Arnold. He can’t see her until the 12th.

11th September - Memorandum regarding Requirement for Ferry Pilots, September 11, 1942.[9]

12th September - 3 WAFS recruits report. Cochran meets with Arnold. Arnold is shocked and furious about announcement. Cochran does not press for abandonment of Love’s project. Does not want media publicity which would create a campaign against her. Gives her plans to Arnold. Asks that her program begin immediately. Cochran wants a much broader plan. Her pilots will be militarily trained and will do more jobs than ferrying. Arnold calls in George and his Deputy CO, Smith.

14th September - Jacqueline Cochran is appointed Director of Women's Flying Training. [10] Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) created when AAF CG/Arnold approved memo from M/General George of Air Transport Command requesting a training program for women pilots. Smith submits memo to Arnold outlining Cochran plans to train women and qualifications for entrance.

15th September - Memo regarding Hiring Civilian Women Pilots, 1942, from William H. Tunner, Colonel, Air Corps, Commanding. [11]

16th September - Cochran appointed Director, Women’s Ferrying Training: to supervise the activities of all American women pilots connected to the Army Air Force. Salary: ?

21st September - First WAFS gather as a squadron at New Castle AFB near Wilmington, Delaware, United States. They report to Nancy Love, Commander of Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, and sign contract. They will get 4 weeks of transition training at New Castle (not pilot training) .

22nd September - Cochran goes to Houston, Texas, United States to check out facilities for training women pilots.

26th September - Cochran flies between New York and Washington personally interviewing and selecting young women to report for training.

29th September - Postcard, Richard Nixon to Jacqueline Cochran.[12]

7th October - Plan developed proposing first WFTD class begin on 15th of November at Houston Municipal Airport near Houston, Texas, United States. School to be run by civilian contractor, Aviation Enterprises.

Women Airforce Service Pilots

21st October - 7 WAFS (of original volunteers) complete flight transition on trainers - wait for orders.

22nd October - 6 Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Service (WAFS) get orders to report to ferry Piper Cubs.

31st October - 10 Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Service (WAFS) now enrolled.

6th November - Memo from General Arnold CG/AAF to General Stratemeyer, Chief of Staff, AAF, "not military planes but civilian aircraft must be used at outset of women’s pilot training program."

11th November - Male pilot shortage so intense that not only women but physically unfit and overage men will be pressured into service as pilots. Arnold insists that planes must be found for training. Civilian junk airplanes arrive in Houston for trainees to fly. (Only 13 training planes available) . Cochran writes to FTC about future flying assignments for women flight graduates.

14th November - Aviation Enterprises will be in charge of training women pilots.

15th November - First group of experienced women pilots reported for training at the 319th AAFFTD, Howard Hughes Airport, Houston, Texas, United States.[13]First women ever to be flight trained by AAF report for flying training and take Oath. Housing found at tourist courts.

16th November - 28 women pilots report for training at Houston Municipal Airport. Designated: 319th Army Air Forces Flying Training. Detachment: (Called Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) Flying gear: size 44 men’s flying suits, called 'zoot suits.' At New Castle, WAFS deliver first airplanes.

19th December - 2nd class (60 women pilots) arrives at Houston, Texas, United States. Trainees in Houston now flying 22 different kinds of aircraft. One by one old crates being grounded. PT-19s* and BT-13s begin to arrive.

  • To learn more about Fairchild PT-19A Cornell.[14]

23rd December - Nancy Love reports on fields: Love, Romulus, and Long Beach Flying Training Command receives notice 1st class Houston will graduate in February (New Castle can’t take all of them).

25th December - WAFS now total 27. Orders from Colonel Tunner (Ferrying Division Headquarters) to Colonel Baker, "Enroll no more WAFS."

28th December - Nancy Love and 4 WAFS serve as cadre for developing WAFS squadrons. At the end of 1942, there are 24 WAFS Ferrying Cub stuff and a few Ferrying PT-19 trainers.


2nd - 5th January - Nancy Love and 4 others in Love Field cadre arrive at Love Field, Dallas, Texas, United States for developing WAFS Squadron. The group transitions on BTs and Ferry ½ dozen.

15th January - 3rd class arrives. Houston. At-6s and BT-13s arrive each day. One by one 6 pilots in Romulus cadre report to 3rd Ferrying Group.

23rd January - Cochran announces to 1st class: "Flight training being extended and divided into 3 phases: to include basic and advanced." Orders from AAF Headquarters: "All new members of WAFS will have to be processed thru the WFTD."

Avenger Field Welcomes its first class of pilots. (21 February 1943)

30th January - Report filed with AAF Central Flying Training Command: no dorms or housing facilities available at Houston.

6th February - The WFTD increases its goal for the number of women pilots to graduate that year from 396 to 750.[15]

21st February - Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, United States welcomes its first class of women pilots. [16]

February - The WFTD school closes in Houston, Texas, United States.

21st March - Cornelia Fort becomes the first woman to die on active duty for the United States when another pilot accidentally clips the wing of the plane she is flying. [16]

May - Headquarters for WAFS was established at the new New Castle Army Air Base (the former Wilmington Airport). [17] Tunner ensured that there were quarters for the women to live in at the base. [18]

5th August - The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) and the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) merged into Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Jacqueline Cochran served as director of WASP and its training division, while Love was director of the ferrying division. In the 16 months WASP existed, more than 25,000 women applied for training; only 1,879 candidates were accepted. Among them, 1,074 successfully completed the grueling program at Avenger Field - a better "wash-out" rate than 50 percent of male pilot cadets. [19]

"The Avenger" News

August - WASP adopted a patch in 1943 that featured the female gremlin Fifinella. [20]Fifinella was conceived by Roald Dahl and drawn by Walt Disney, and became the official WASP mascot.[20]

30th September - Representative John Costello of California introduces the WASP militarization bill.

17th December - The WASP wings are made available in time for the graduation of Class 43-W-8.


March - CONGRESS CONSIDERS WASP MILITARIZATION Congress began considering legislation to militarize the WASP in order to give them military benefits.[21]

11th March - Barbara Erickson gets Air Medal, first WASP to Win Decoration.[22]

24th March - Senators Joseph Hill (Alabama) and Harold Burton (Ohio) submit a resolution calling for the appointment of female pilots and aviation cadets into the Army Air Forces.

29th May - "Time" article titled "Unnecessary and Undesirable" calls the Women Airforce Service Pilots experiment expensive and claims men could have been trained more quickly.[23]

June - The congressional bid for Women Airforce Service Pilots militarization fails. It was the first time during World War II that legislation supported by the Army Air Forces was voted down.

July - Rumors begin circulating in the press that the WASP program is about to be disbanded.

1st October - WASP relocated to Avenger Field, in Sweetwater, Texas, United States. General Hap Arnold issues a memorandum to WASP Director Jackie Cochran stating that because of the changing war situation the WASPs would "soon become pilot material in excess of needs."

2nd October - Cochran writes and sends a letter to all WASP's notifying that General Arnold has directed that the WASP program be deactivated on 20th of December 1944.

1st November - Brigadier General Bob Nowland writes a memo describing the hardships that will be caused by deactivating the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program.

25th November - For 1944 a total of 584 women pilots graduated from the WASP Training school, in Sweetwater, Texas, United States.[24] [24]During 1944, 23 WASP were killed, 6 while in training, and 17 while on operational duty.[24]

7th December - General Hap Arnold addresses the final graduating class of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).

20th December - The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program is deactivated.

1952 - 1992


7th July - Jacqueline Cochran is issued a certificate from the Republican National Convention, Chicago, July 1952[25]

19th November - Letter, Bill Anderson, Walt Disney Productions, to Cochran, November 19, 1952.[26]


19th October - The Senate votes unanimously to grant Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) veterans' recognition. [16] WASP granted military status.[6]

3rd November - The House votes to give the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) veteran status.

23rd November - President Carter signs a bill into law "Officially declaring the Women's Airforce Service Pilots as having served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States for purposes of laws administered by the Veterans Administration." 1979. [16]


The WASP designated Texas Woman's University in Denton as their official archives.[6]

1993 - 2012


A documentary produced by Ken Magid, Women of Courage, was shown on PBS in 1993.[27]


President Obama Signs Bill Awarding Congressional Gold Medal to Women Airforce Pilots (WASP)

WASHINGTON – On 01 July 2009, President Obama signed into law S. 614, a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). WASP was established during World War II with the primary mission of flying non-combat military missions in the United States thus freeing their male counterparts for combat missions. Its pilots were the first women ever to fly American military aircraft and flew almost every type of aircraft operated by the United States Army Air Force during World War II on a wide range of missions. "The Women Airforce Service Pilots courageously answered their country’s call in a time of need while blazing a trail for the brave women who have given and continue to give so much in service to this nation since," said President Obama. "Every American should be grateful for their service, and I am honored to sign this bill to finally give them some of the hard-earned recognition they deserve." From 1942 to 1943, more than 1,000 women joined the WASP. 38 of them made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation in performing its mission. But their contribution went largely unrecognized for years, not even being acknowledged with veteran status until 1977. [28] [29]

Congressional Gold Medal - Bronze reproduction

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest and most distinguished award Congress can award to a civilian. Since the American Revolution; Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. In 2000 and 2006, Congress awarded the Gold Medal to the Navajo Code Talkers and the Tuskegee Airmen, respectively.[30]

Captain Marvel Comic Book Cover, Marvel Issue #4


In the 2012 Captain Marvel story from Marvel comics, Carol Danvers travels through time to 1943 where she fights alongside a squad of Women Airforce Service Pilots on an island off the coast of Peru.[31]


  • Betty Tackaberry Blake - The last surviving member of the first WASP training group (A Member of Class 43-W-1 at Sweetwater, Texas, United States, graduated 24 April 1943),[33]passed away 09 April 2015.[34]
  • Doris Bristol, (1920-2010) - A Member of Class 43-W-5,[35]
  • Dorothy Britt (later Mann) - Began training in the WASP in November 1943 for the Class of 44-4.[36][37]
  • Annelle Henderson Bulechek - WASP Member of Class 44-W-2.[38]
  • Mary S. Reineberg Burchard, (1916–2012) - A Member of Class 44-W-6.[39]
  • Ann Baumgartner Carl,[40]
  • Pearl Laska Chamberlain - First woman to solo a single-engine airplane up the Alaska Highway in 1946.[41]
  • Elizabeth "Betty" Maxine Chambers[42]
  • Jacqueline Cochran - Jacqueline Cochran was the only woman to compete in the Bendix race in 1937. By 1938, she had won the Bendix and had set speed as well as altitude records. Cochran is credited with many firsts: first woman to break the sound barrier, first woman to fly a jet across the ocean, first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic, first pilot to fly above 20,000 feet with an oxygen mask and the first woman to land and take off from an aircraft carrier. At the time of her death in 1980, Cochran held more speed, distance or altitude records than any other pilot.[43][44]Director of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).
  • Gwendolyne Cowart[45]
  • Rosa Charlyne Creger[47]
  • Nancy Batson Crews[48]
  • Nancye Ruth Lowe Crout - A Member of Class 43-W-4, Nancye passed away 21 January 2016.[50]
  • Iris Cummings Critchell - She was a member of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team in Berlin in 1936, and reigned as U.S. women’s 200-meter breaststroke champion from 1936 to 1939.[51][52]
  • Jeanne P. d'Ambly – A Member of Class 43-W-5.[53]
  • Cornelia Fort – One of the original WAFS. Fort's experience included evading attacking IJNAS carrier planes at Pearl Harbor on 07 December 1941. She became the first WAFS fatality in a midair collision while flying a BT-13 near Merkel, Texas on 21 or 23 March 1943. She died young at the age of 24.[54]
  • Elizabeth L. Gardner - Of Rockford, Illinois.[55]
  • Maggie Gee – One of only two Asian-Americans (Chinese) in the WASP, the other being Hazel Ying Lee.[56]
  • Betty Gillies - Betty (Huyler) Gillies, co-pilot, is one of two of the first woman to fly the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber. (Nancy Harkness Love - pilot)[57]Betty Gillies, Serving as President of the Ninety-Nines, chairwoman of the All Woman Transcontinental Air Race (AWTAR) and commander of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), stationed at New Castle Army Air Base during World War II. [58]
  • Ann Warren Griffith - Ann Warren Griffith was a Women's Airforce Service Pilot (WASP). She wrote for several periodicals such as The New Yorker, and is known also for her science fiction.[59][60]
  • Betty Haas Pfister[61]
Sara Payne Hayden
  • Lois Emma (Brooks) Hailey - A Member of Class 43-W-3.[62]
  • Elaine D. Harmon - born Elaine Danforth, (26 December 1919 – 21 April 2015) was an American from Maryland who served in the U.S. Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II. In 2009 she received a Congressional Gold Medal for her service as a pilot during World War II.[63]As a WASP pilot, she has been accorded full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. In 2016, Ms. Harmon was posthumously inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame.[64] First WASP aviator interred at Arlington National Cemetery. She was 95.
  • Sara Payne Hayden, (29 August 1919 – 15 March 2019) was one of the women who joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II. She was the Veterans Affairs chairwoman of the group as of 2006. Hayden died in Plano, Texas in March 2019 at the age of 99.[65][66]


  • Bernice "Bee" Falk Haydu[68]
  • Jean Hixson - A teacher and part of the Mercury 13. She was also the second woman to exceed Mach One,[70] Please check out "Mercury 13 and sexual discrimination."
  • Carla Horowitz[71]
  • Evelyn Greenblatt Howren - A Member of Class 43-W-1.[72]
  • Celia M. Hunter[73]
  • Marge Hurlburt – She was named to the Board of Directors of the Professional Race Pilots Association to represent the interests of female pilots and held the women's international airspeed record at the time her death in July 1947. Marge died while performing as part of a flying circus that she joined to raise money to build a new racing airplane.[74]
  • Janet Hutchinson – Of the Flying Hutchinsons, joined at age 18.[75]
  • Marguerite "Ty" Hughes Killen - A Member of Class 44-W-8.[78]
  • Hazel Ying Lee – One of two Asian-Americans (Chinese) in the WASP, the other being Maggie Gee. Lee was the last WASP member to die while serving in the program.[79] and [80]
  • Dorothy Swain Lewis – Worked at Piper Aircraft Lockhaven, Pennsylvania, Graduate of Phoebe Omlie's Tennessee Bureau of Aeronautics Women Aviation Instructor Program in Nashville TN (Feb 1943), Instructed Navy pilots V-5 program classes 43F, W3G, W3H, Instructed WASP classes 43-W8, 44-W2, 44-W4, joined WASP in class 44-W7&5, towed targets in B-26, engineering flights various other aircraft, sculpted WASP trainee statue on United States Air Force Academy Honor Court, Colorado Springs, painted official portrait[81]of Janet Reno for US Department of Justice.
  • Doris Lockness - Centenarian Birth: 02 February 1910 in Pennsylvania, United States, Death: 30 January 2017 in Folsom, Pennsylvania, United States. (Age 106 years 362 days. Passed away 3 days before her 107th Birthday Country: USA Flag USA.[82][83]
  • Barbara Erickson London – The only WASP member to be awarded the Air Medal during World War II. Following the war, medals were awarded to other WASP members.[84]
  • Grace Elizabeth "Betty" Ashwell Lotowycz - Was a pilot in the WASPs in World War II, one of only 1,047. She was a member of Class 44-W-7 at Avenger Field in Sweetwater Texas; and was subsequently assigned to the ferrying service out of Minter Field near Bakersfield, California.Lotowycz and the other WASP filers were finally recognized as WWII military veterans in 1977,[85][86]and received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
  • Nancy Harkness Love - "Nancy Love's new interest and training made her among the rarest of the rare."[87]Nancy Love, pilot, and Betty (Huyler) Gillies, co-pilot, the first women to fly the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber. Nancy Love becomes a Commander.[88]
  • Loes Monk Mackenzie - A Member of Class 43-W-8.[89]
  • Iola "Nancy" Clay Magruder - A Member of Class 44-W-7. Iola's orders sent her to Enid, Oklahoma where she flew BT-13, BT-15, AT-6, PT-17, and B-18.[90]
  • Madge Moore - A Member of Class 44-4.[91]
  • Annabelle Craft Moss - A Member of Class 44-W-2. Moss flew the AT-6 Trainer, and was responsible for transporting officers from base to base.[92][93]
  • Anne Noggle – Following the war she became a noted photographer and writer. She took the photos for "For God, Country and the Thrill of It: Women Airforce Pilots of World War II, with an introduction by Dora Dougherty Strother.
  • Suzanne UpJohn DeLano Parish - Aviatrix, Kalamazoo Area Philanthropist. Co-founder of Kalamazoo Air Museum, later called the Air Zoo.[98]
  • Vilma Lazar Qualls (05 May 1917 – 02 November 2003) - A Member of Class 43-W-3. Vilma was assigned to Long Beach Army Air Base after training. She flew BT-13, C-47, B-17 and B-24.
  • Hazel Jane Raines
  • Mabel Rawlinson - From Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States
  • Katherine Louise Rawls - (born 14 June 1917 – passed away 08 April 1982, aged 64), also known by her married names Katherine Thompson and Katherine Green. Katherine was one of the initial 28 pilots who formed the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron in 1942, stationed at Detroit, transporting military cargo by air as part of the U.S. war effort. Katherine was an American competition swimmer and diver. She was the United States national champion in multiple events during the 1930s.[99]
  • Ola Mildred Rexroat, An Oglala Sioux from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, joined the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) directly out of high school. Her job was to tow targets for aerial gunnery students at Eagle Pass Army Air Base in Texas. Towing targets for student gunners was a fairly dangerous assignment, but "Rexy" was happy to be able to contribute to the war effort in a meaningful way. After the war ended, Ola joined the Air Force and served for almost ten years.[100]
  • Mary Anne Richey, born Mary Anne Reimann in Shelbyville, Indiana on 24 October 1917 - passed away on 25 November 1983 (aged 66) - Richey was in the United States Army, Women's Army Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II, from 1943 to 1945. She received a Bachelor of Laws from the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona in 1951. She was in private practice in Tucson, Arizona from 1951 to 1952. She was a deputy county attorney of Pima County, Arizona from 1952 to 1954. She was an Assistant United States Attorney of the District of Arizona in Tucson from 1954 to 1960. She was the United States Attorney for the District of Arizona from 1960 to 1961. She was in private practice in Tucson from 1962 to 1964. She was a Judge of the Superior Court of Arizona in Pima County from 1964 to 1976. She was the Associate Presiding Judge from 1972 to 1976.[101][102]
  • Margaret Ringenberg - (née Ray; born 17 June 1921, Fort Wayne, Indiana – passed away 28 July 2008, Oshkosh, Wisconsin - aged 87) was an American aviator, who had logged more than 40,000 hours of flying time during her career.[103]It's believed that she got her first taste of flying at age 7 during a flight with a barnstormer. She earned her pilot's certificate in 1940, and served the US Army during World War II in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program until they were disbanded in December 1944. She flew the PT-19, BT-13, AT-6, and UC-78, got her instrument rating in a DC-3, and co-piloted the B-24 and C-54. After the war she became a flight instructor and avid air racer. She completed the "Round-the-World" Air Race in 1994 at age 72. In June 2007, at age 86, she flew her 50th air derby. Margaret has inspired many young girls to follow their dreams by sharing her love of aviation during motivational speeches and through her autobiography, Girls Can't Be Pilots. Tom Brokaw devoted an entire chapter in his book, The Greatest Generation, to her. She died in 2008.[104]
  • Lorraine Zillner Rodgers - (b. 11 September 1920 – d. 03 July 2018) (aged 97) Rodgers was a Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) pilot for the United States Army Air Forces. Lorraine met George Franklin Rodgers, a naval aviator, and they were married for 33 years.[105]
Lorraine Z. Rodgers being honored in the Oval Office
  • Evelyn Sharp – Evelyn Sharp was the most experienced pilot with 2,950 hours of flight prior to entering the program. In 1938, Evelyn Sharp was the youngest person in the United States to receive a commercial pilot license.[107]
  • Florence Shutsy-Reynolds (1923-2018) – Earned her pilot's license in 1941, just before women were barred from the government-operated training program at local airports due to the expected need of more male pilots. Following the death of her husband around 1988, she took over the WASP organization's "Stores" job, making and selling intricate silver and bronze jewelry, banners, scarves and other WASP-themed items.[108]
  • Gertrude Tompkins Silver – The only WASP member to go missing during World War II. She departed from Mines Field (currently LAX) for Palm Springs, on 26 October 1944, flying a P-51D Mustang destined for New Jersey but never arrived. In January 2010 search efforts to locate the possible crash site in Santa Monica Bay were unsuccessful.[109]
  • Jane Straughan - Graduate of Class 43-W-1.[111]
  • Elizabeth "Liz" Strohfus[112] Elizabeth Strohfus flew B-26 Widowmakers and pulled 6 G's in an F-16 at age 71/2. She died at 96 on 06 March 2016, in Faribault, MN.
  • Dora Dougherty Strother[113]
  • Florene Miller Watson - One of the first WAFS volunteers.[115]
  • Betty Jane Williams - Went on to become a Lt Colonel in her later military career.[116]
  • Mary E. Williamson (1924 – 2012)[117]
  • Ginny Wood. She was born Virginia Hill on 24 October 1917. A pioneer Alaska environmentalist. She founded The Alaska Conservation Society in the late 1950's.[118] [119]
  • Marty Wyall[120]Was part of the last class of WASP in 1944. She later became the WASP historian.


They are listed by class and then alphabetically by their maiden names. In some cases, the maiden name was not known and only a married name is shown. If their maiden name was known, their married name is shown in brackets, [ ].[121][122]

The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), never numbering more than 28, was created in September 1942 within the Air Transport Command, under Nancy Harkness Love's leadership. WAFS were recruited from among commercially licensed women pilots with at least 500 hours flying time and a 200-hp rating. (Women who joined the WAFS actually averaged about 1,100 hours of flying experience.) Their original mission was to ferry USAAF trainers and light aircraft from the factories, but later they were delivering fighters, bombers and transports as well.[123]

These twenty-eight women were the first.

  1. BATSON, Nancy Elizabeth [Crews] - 20th
  2. BATTEN, Bernice L., E-3 USMC - 24th
  3. BERNHEIM, Kathryn L. [Fine] - 26th, Maj. USAFR
  4. BOHN, Delphine - 15th
  5. BURCHFIELD, Phyllis M. [Fulton] - 18th, 1,600 hours
  6. CLARK, Helen Mary - 5th, 629 hours, Maj. USAFR
  7. DONAHUE, Barbara J. [Ross] - 16th, 500.1 hours
  8. ERICKSON, Barbara J. [London] - 14th, 1,017 hours, Maj. USAFR
  9. FERGUSON, Opal "Betsy" [Woodward] - 23rd, 873 hours
  10. FORT, Cornella (KIS) - 3rd recruit, 845 hours
  11. FULTON, Dorothy [Slinn] - 22rd, 3.269 hours
  12. GILLIES, Betty Huyler - 2nd recruit, 1,261 hours, Maj. USAFR
  13. JAMES, Teresa D. [Martin] - 8th, 2,254 hours, Maj. USAFR
  14. LOVE, Nancy (Harkness) , Squadron CO 1st, 1,200 hours
  15. MANNING, Esther [Rathfelder; Shively; Westervelt] - 19th, 500 hours
  16. McELROY, Lenore L. - 28th, 3,500 hours, Maj. USAF
  17. McGILVERY, Helen - 27th
  18. MESERVE, Gertrude [Tubbs, LeValley] - 12th, 1,964 hours
  19. MILLER, Florene [Watson] - 13th
  20. NELSON, Esther L. [Gebbert, Carpenter], Cpt. USAFR - 7th, 429 hours but passes flight test
  21. POOLE, Barbara [Shoemaker] - 9th, 1,800 hours
  22. RHONIE, Aline H. "Pat" [Brooks] - 4th, 2,627 hours, ATA 3rd Officer, 30 November 1943 to 19 November 1944
  23. RICHARDS, Helen [Prosser] - 10th, 975 hours
  24. SCHARR, Adela R. - 6th, 1,429 hours, Maj USAFR
  25. SCOTT, Dorothy F. (KIS) - 25th
  26. SHARP, Evelyn Genevieve (KIS) - 17th, 2,950 hours, Remembered
  27. THOMPSON, Katherine [Rawls] - 21st, 675 hours
  28. TOWNE, Barbara [Dickson, Fasken] - 11th
Nancy (Harkness) Love and her B-17 "Queen Bee"

WASP Video

WASP video (YouTube)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwIT7T9T1iQ#action=share : 19 August 2020.
US National Archives
National Archives Identifier: 36182
Local Identifier: 111-ANSM-16
From: Series: Army - Navy Screen Magazine, 1943 - 1958
Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer
This item was produced or created: 1943
Other Title(s): Screen magazine, no. 16

Suggested Readings

  • Landdeck, Katherine Sharp. The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II. Crown Publishing, 2020, April 21st.[124]
  • Carl, Ann Baumgartner. A WASP Among Eagles. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1999.
  • Cochran, Jacqueline and Mary Ann Bucknum Brinley. Jackie Cochran: Autobiography/Greatest Women Pilot in Aviation History. Bantam Books, 1987.
  • Cooper, Ann Lewis. How High She Flies - Dorothy Swain Lewis. Aviatrix Publishing, 1999.
  • Granger, Byrd Howell. On Final Approach - The Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II. Falconer Publishing Company, 1991.
  • Keil, Sally Van Wagenen. Those Wonderful Women in Their Flying Machines." Four Directions Press., 1979 & 1990.
  • Rickman, Sarah Byrn. The Originals - The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron of World War II. Disc-Us Books., 2001.


  • WASP were among the first women in America's history to fly American military aircraft.
  • WASP voluntarily put their lives' on the line in an experimental program to demonstrate that women could successfully fly military aircraft.
  • In less than 2 years, WASP flew 60 million miles in every type aircraft in the Army Air Force arsenal - from the fastest fighters to the heaviest bombers.
  • WASP flew every type mission presented to them, and any Army Air Force male pilot flew during World War II, except combat.
  • WASP were stationed at 120 Army Air Bases across America.
  • WASP were used as examples to fly B-26s and B-29s to demonstrate to male pilots they were safe to fly.
  • WASP helped free-up male pilots for combat.
  • WASP are role models for today's female pilots and astronauts.
  • They forever changed the role of women in aviation.

Research Notes

A few more than 1,100 young women, all civilian volunteers, flew almost every type of military aircraft - including the B-26 and B-29 bombers - as part of the WASP program. They ferried new planes long distances from factories to military bases and departure points across the country. They tested newly overhauled planes. And they towed targets to give ground and air gunners training shooting - with live ammunition. The WASP expected to become part of the military during their service. Instead, the program was canceled after just two years.


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Happy Aviation Day! 19th of August.
posted by Paula (Hawkins) Reinke