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WASPs Demonstrate Their Abilities

Bell YP-59A Airacomet. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Bell YP-59A Airacomet. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A WASP in a Bell P-39 Airacobra. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A WASP in a Bell P-39 Airacobra. (U.S. Air Force photo)

WASP flight crew of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. (U.S. Air Force photo)

WASP flight crew of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A WASP with a North American P-51D Mustang. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A WASP with a North American P-51D Mustang. (U.S. Air Force photo)

WASP Nadine Canfield (Nagle) wears flight coveralls and carries a parachute and seat cushion. (U.S. Air Force photo)

WASP Nadine Canfield (Nagle) wears flight coveralls and carries a parachute and seat cushion. (U.S. Air Force photo)

WASP C-47 flight crew: Pilot Joanna Trebtoske (Jenks), left, and Copilot Marjorie Logan (Rolle) at Romulus Army Air Field, Mich. (U.S. Air Force photo)

WASP C-47 flight crew: Pilot Joanna Trebtoske (Jenks), left, and Copilot Marjorie Logan (Rolle) at Romulus Army Air Field, Mich. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama authorized Public Law 111-40 awarding the Congressional Gold Medal-the highest civilian recognition that Congress can bestow-to the Women Airforce Service Pilots(WASP). The 111th Congress awarded the medal "In recognition of their pioneering military service and exemplary record, which forged revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces of the United States of America." The medals on display are bronze replicas made by the U.S. Mint. They were presented to WASP veterans Marie Barrett Marsh and Genevieve Landman Rausch in 2010, and donated to the Museum on their behalf in 2015. The original WASP gold medal is kept by the Smithsonian Institution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama authorized Public Law 111-40 awarding the Congressional Gold Medal-the highest civilian recognition that Congress can bestow-to the Women Airforce Service Pilots(WASP). The 111th Congress awarded the medal "In recognition of their pioneering military service and exemplary record, which forged revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces of the United States of America." The medals on display are bronze replicas made by the U.S. Mint. They were presented to WASP veterans Marie Barrett Marsh and Genevieve Landman Rausch in 2010, and donated to the Museum on their behalf in 2015. The original WASP gold medal is kept by the Smithsonian Institution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) Exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) Exhibit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama authorized Public Law 111-40 awarding the Congressional Gold Medal-the highest civilian recognition that Congress can bestow-to the Women Airforce Service Pilots(WASP). The 111th Congress awarded the medal "In recognition of their pioneering military service and exemplary record, which forged revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces of the United States of America." The medals on display are bronze replicas made by the U.S. Mint. They were presented to WASP veterans Marie Barrett Marsh and Genevieve Landman Rausch in 2010, and donated to the Museum on their behalf in 2015. The original WASP gold medal is kept by the Smithsonian Institution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama authorized Public Law 111-40 awarding the Congressional Gold Medal-the highest civilian recognition that Congress can bestow-to the Women Airforce Service Pilots(WASP). The 111th Congress awarded the medal "In recognition of their pioneering military service and exemplary record, which forged revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces of the United States of America." The medals on display are bronze replicas made by the U.S. Mint. They were presented to WASP veterans Marie Barrett Marsh and Genevieve Landman Rausch in 2010, and donated to the Museum on their behalf in 2015. The original WASP gold medal is kept by the Smithsonian Institution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama authorized Public Law 111-40 awarding the Congressional Gold Medal-the highest civilian recognition that Congress can bestow-to the Women Airforce Service Pilots(WASP). The 111th Congress awarded the medal "In recognition of their pioneering military service and exemplary record, which forged revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces of the United States of America." The medals on display are bronze replicas made by the U.S. Mint. They were presented to WASP veterans Marie Barrett Marsh and Genevieve Landman Rausch in 2010, and donated to the Museum on their behalf in 2015. The original WASP gold medal is kept by the Smithsonian Institution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama authorized Public Law 111-40 awarding the Congressional Gold Medal-the highest civilian recognition that Congress can bestow-to the Women Airforce Service Pilots(WASP). The 111th Congress awarded the medal "In recognition of their pioneering military service and exemplary record, which forged revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces of the United States of America." The medals on display are bronze replicas made by the U.S. Mint. They were presented to WASP veterans Marie Barrett Marsh and Genevieve Landman Rausch in 2010, and donated to the Museum on their behalf in 2015. The original WASP gold medal is kept by the Smithsonian Institution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama authorized Public Law 111-40 awarding the Congressional Gold Medal-the highest civilian recognition that Congress can bestow-to the Women Airforce Service Pilots(WASP). The 111th Congress awarded the medal "In recognition of their pioneering military service and exemplary record, which forged revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces of the United States of America." The medals on display are bronze replicas made by the U.S. Mint. They were presented to WASP veterans Marie Barrett Marsh and Genevieve Landman Rausch in 2010, and donated to the Museum on their behalf in 2015. The original WASP gold medal is kept by the Smithsonian Institution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama authorized Public Law 111-40 awarding the Congressional Gold Medal-the highest civilian recognition that Congress can bestow-to the Women Airforce Service Pilots(WASP). The 111th Congress awarded the medal "In recognition of their pioneering military service and exemplary record, which forged revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces of the United States of America." The medals on display are bronze replicas made by the U.S. Mint. They were presented to WASP veterans Marie Barrett Marsh and Genevieve Landman Rausch in 2010, and donated to the Museum on their behalf in 2015. The original WASP gold medal is kept by the Smithsonian Institution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama authorized Public Law 111-40 awarding the Congressional Gold Medal-the highest civilian recognition that Congress can bestow-to the Women Airforce Service Pilots(WASP). The 111th Congress awarded the medal "In recognition of their pioneering military service and exemplary record, which forged revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces of the United States of America." The medals on display are bronze replicas made by the U.S. Mint. They were presented to WASP veterans Marie Barrett Marsh and Genevieve Landman Rausch in 2010, and donated to the Museum on their behalf in 2015. The original WASP gold medal is kept by the Smithsonian Institution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama authorized Public Law 111-40 awarding the Congressional Gold Medal-the highest civilian recognition that Congress can bestow-to the Women Airforce Service Pilots(WASP). The 111th Congress awarded the medal "In recognition of their pioneering military service and exemplary record, which forged revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces of the United States of America." The medals on display are bronze replicas made by the U.S. Mint. They were presented to WASP veterans Marie Barrett Marsh and Genevieve Landman Rausch in 2010, and donated to the Museum on their behalf in 2015. The original WASP gold medal is kept by the Smithsonian Institution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Women pilots sometimes encountered resentment from males. For example, the only WASP in a P-47 class of 36 males was considered an intruder -- until she became the fourth in the group to solo in the huge fighter. WASPs later routinely ferried P-47s from the factory.

WASPs made demonstration flights in the "hot" B-26 Marauder and the new B-29 Superfortress, challenging male egos and showing that these aircraft weren't as difficult to fly as some men felt them to be.

Ann Baumgartner became the first woman to fly an USAAF jet at Wright Field when she flew the Bell YP-59A twin jet fighter. WASPs flew virtually every type of USAAF aircraft from light trainers to heavy four-engine bombers. They flew about 60 million miles or 2,500 times around the world at the Equator, with 38 deaths. Before and after graduation, their accident rate was comparable to that for male pilots doing similar jobs.

Click here to return to the Women Pilots in WWII Overview.

 

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Martin B-26G Marauder
Boeing B-29 Superfortress
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