Women Airforce Service Pilots (Wasp) Essay

949 words - 4 pages

At the start of World War II, most nations were experiencing a shortage of resources. In the United States, food, gasoline, and other scarce goods were being heavily rationed, and many government controls were initiated to lessen the economic burden of the war. At the same time, unemployment was at a record low. Wartime production created a huge labor market, eclipsing the available workforce. Due to the military conscription, most able-bodied men were led overseas to fight in the war, so the country turned to civilian workers, including women. Soon, “Rosie the Riveter” had become a national heroine, representing women laborers, who began replacing men in every facet of industry and ...view middle of the document...

On September 1, 1942, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in her “My Day” newspaper column, “women pilots are a weapon waiting to be used.” Nine days later, 28 qualified women went on to form the first Women’s Auxiliary Ferry Squadron, or WAFS.

After 18 months abroad, Cochran returned from England, and upon learning about the WAFS program, she outlined a training plan to further expand the pool of women ferry pilots. Cochran’s training group would be called the 319th Women's Flying Training Detachment, or WFTD. By July 5th, 1943, the WFTD program was exceeding expectations and graduates started to take on duties beyond ferrying. At that time, the WFTD and WAFS consolidated to form the Women's Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs. (Carl, 36-37)

In order to join the WASP, pilots between the ages of 21 and 35 were required to demonstrate physical fitness, mental stamina and, initially, have about 200 flying hours under their belts. Of the 1,800 ladies who met the selection criteria, only 1,070 would go on to graduate as WASP. Cochran, an advocate of consistency and standards, provided training to the women pilots, regardless of their previous experience, that would mirror the training that Air Force cadets received (Carl, 38-39).

In 1944, as the war was winding down, the need for women in service dwindled. Displaced male pilots and flight instructors were lobbying for the WASPs jobs, and there was a general consensus that while the women’s aide during a national crisis was patriotic, now that they threatened to replace men, their role as aviators was unacceptable. By December, the program was cancelled and remaining women in the program were sent home. (Mongtane, pars. 24 - 28).

It would be many years before women flew in a...

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