National Museum of the USAF   Right Corner Banner
Join the Air Force

Home > Fact Sheets > WASPs: Breaking Ground for Today’s Female USAF Pilots


Posted 11/3/2014 Printable Fact Sheet
Previous ImageNext Image
Gen. Hap Arnold
Gen. Hap Arnold, Chief of the Air Corps. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Download HiRes

As early as 1930, the War Department had considered using women pilots but the Chief of the U.S. Army Air Corps had called the idea "utterly unfeasible," stating that women were too "high strung." Famed woman aviator Jacqueline Cochran in 1939 wrote Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt (wife of then-President Franklin Roosevelt) to suggest women pilots could be used in a national emergency. Aviatrix Nancy Harkness Love in 1940 made a similar proposal to the Air Corps' Ferry Command. 

Nothing was done until after American entry into World War II. Facing the need for male combat pilots, the situation by mid-1942 favored the use of experienced women pilots to fly U.S. Army Air Forces aircraft within the United States. Two women's aviator units were formed to ease this need and more than 1,000 women participated in these programs as civilians attached to the USAAF. These were merged into a single group, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program in August 1943 and broke ground for U.S. Air Force female pilots who would follow in their footsteps.

Click on the following links to learn more about women pilots during WWII.

Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron
Women's Flying Training Detachment
WASP Created
WASPs Demonstrate Their Abilities
WASP Disbanded
WASP Uniform

Click here to return to the World War II Gallery.

Find Out More
Blue line
Maj. Nicole Malachowski: "America's Women Military Aviators" (00:59:50)
Florene Miller Watson: "Early Women Pilots in World War II" (01:12:49)
Blue line
Other Resources
USAF Historical Study No. 55: Women Pilots with the AAF (Provided by AFHRA)
WASP Official Archive (Texas Woman's University)
National WASP World War II Museum
Wings Across America
"Fly Girls" (PBS Documentary)
Blue line
Note: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Museum of the USAF, the U.S. Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external website, or the information, products or services contained therein.

 Inside the Museum

ima cornerSearch

ima cornerWWII History


tabRelated Links

Museum Virtual TourMuseum Facebook PageMuseum Twitter PageMuseum Instagram
Museum Google Plus PageMuseum Pinterest PageMuseum YouTube ChannelMuseum Flickr Page
Museum PodcastsMuseum E-newsletter Sign-upMuseum RSS Feeds

Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act