Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Women of the Wild Blue Yonder: WAFS, WASP, and Beyond

This third installment of Women of the Wild Blue Yonder features some of the other organizations of women aviators that flew during WWII and later.

ATA Wings

ATA (Air Transit Authority)--a British World War II civilian organization that ferried new, repaired, and damaged military aircraft. It also flew service personnel on urgent duty from one place to another and performed air ambulance work.  
The ATA recruited pilots who were considered to be unsuitable for reasons of age, fitness, or handicap, pilots from neutral countries and, notably, women pilots.
166 women pilots volunteered from Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, United States, the Netherlands, Poland, and one from Argentina. 15 lost their lives in the air, including the British pioneer aviator Amy Johnson. One of many notable achievements of the women is that they earned the same pay as men in equal rank as the men starting in 1943.

Nancy Batson Crews (WAFS)
WAFS (Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron)--never numbering more than 28, was created in September 1942 under Nancy Harkness Love's leadership. WAFS were recruited from among commercially licensed women pilots with at least 500 hours flying time. 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.

WFTD (Women's Flying Training Detachment)--this program for women pilots, under Jacqueline Cochran, was approved on Sept. 15, 1942, . The 23-week training program included 115 hours of flying time. Training soon moved to Avenger Field at Sweetwater, Texas, and increased to 30 weeks with 210 hours of flying. Their training emphasized cross country flying with less emphasis on acrobatics and with no gunnery or close formation flight training.

WASP Pilots

WASP (Women Air Force Service Pilots)-- In August 1943 all women pilots flying for the USAAF were consolidated into the WASP program with Jacqueline Cochran as Director. Nancy Harkness Love was named as WASP executive on the Air Transport Command Ferrying Division staff. More than 25,000 women applied for pilot training. Of these, 1,830 were accepted, 1,074 graduated and 900 remained at program's end, plus 16 former WAFS. WASP flew virtually every type of USAAF aircraft and they flew about 60 million miles. 38 WASP were killed in service of their country.

Read some of the following great books:

The All Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg (WASP)

American Women and Flight Since 1940 by Deborah G. Douglas (History)

Blue Skies by Ali Vali (Carrier Pilots)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (ATA)

Military Fly Moms: Sharing Memories, Building Legacies, Inspiring Hope: Compiled and Edited by Linda Maloney

Nancy Love and the WASP Ferry Pilots of World War II by Sarah Byrn Rickman (WASP)

The Originals: the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron of World War II by Sarah Byrn Rickman (WAFS)

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (ATA)--Companion book to Code Name Verity

No comments: