As losses of men and aircraft skyrocketed in the early years of World War II, the shortage of trained pilots to handle flying duties back home became acute. The War Department, after months of badgering by a handful of visionaries of both sexes, finally agreed to launch an experimental program under the control of the United States Army, to train women to carry out domestic flying chores for the military. The Army was the natural choice because its flying program was the largest, a separate Air Force not yet having been created. The result was as much a testimonial to the women’s ability to fly whatever was strapped to them, as it was an exhibition of ignorance by men who set out to prove them “silly, incompetent females.”
More than 25,000 young women volunteered for training as Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Of the 1,830 who were accepted, 1,074 graduated. Almost all went on to fly many types of aircraft, from the smallest and slowest trainers to giant bombers and hot fighters. Missions ranged from ferrying aircraft to dispersal points for shipment overseas, to towing targets for student gunners firing live ammunition. Flights occurred in all kinds of weather, sometimes in worn-out aircraft returned from combat, or in machines fresh from the factory and making their first hop. These missions were often as dangerous as combat, and in fact thirty-eight WASP died. By war’s end, Women Airforce Service Pilots had flown sixty million miles in seventy-eight different types of aircraft.
This piece of fiction is based on their accounts.
Sally Ketchum peered over the edge of the cockpit.
They were over Oklahoma by now. Or maybe it was still Texas down there. There was no way to tell, really…the pitifully dried-out
browns of one were pretty much identical to the other. But the truth was that she didn't care where they were, exactly.
And she was pretty sure that Tex didn't, either. Texas was behind them, or soon would be. Oklahoma was beneath them, or soon would be. And soon up