Based on the lessons and character of the WASP, the CAF RISE ABOVE: WASP outreach program focuses on the following six principles:
Six Guiding Principles
The WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) were female pilots who volunteered to fly American military airplanes during World War II. At the time, it was thought that women would be incapable of flying such advanced airplanes – and that they should not be involved in the military in any aviation capacity. But there was a serious shortage of available pilots on the home front.
When others told them it was impossible, they made their dreams come true by working hard. Aim high, and we can achieve more.
Believe In Yourself
The women who would become the WASP were marginalized and demeaned, regardless of their skill and willingness to serve their country. The circumstances of World War II gave them the chance to fly for their country stateside, but for decades they were left out of history books, not even recognized for their service.
More than 20,000 women applied; just 1,074 women earned the coveted silver wings, becoming official members of the WASP program.
Believe in the power within yourself to make a difference.
Use Your Brain
The WASP flew nearly every type of airplane in the U.S. military’s inventory at the time; a few, highly-qualified women, even did test flights in rocket and jet powered airplanes. It was assessed by the military that the women flew more than 78 different types of airplanes, for a total of more than sixty million miles.
Be Ready To Go
Most WASP trained and graduated from Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. Others trained at Houston Municipal Airport (now Hobby Airport). Training took several months, during which time the women were rigorously prepared for flying long missions through extensive cross-country flights and night flights. There was a total of 19 classes during WWII to train female cadets.
The WASP were based at 120 air bases across the U.S. It was thought that by spreading the WASP out, they could be more effective at relieving men for combat duties on the frontlines. The largest single group of operational women pilots was the 601st Ferrying Squadron, based at Dallas Love Field.
The WASP flew a range of missions, including towing target tugs, conducting maintenance test flights and cargo transport within the U.S. One of the main missions of the program was to ferry aircraft from factories to their points of debarkation. Between September 1942 and December 1944 women pilots of the WASP would ferry more than 12,650 aircraft.
Expect To Win
The WASP did not receive equal pay or benefits. Their pay did not scale; any woman who graduated received the same amount of money, no matter how advanced or complex her task. The WASP were also billed for their room and board. This was not the case in the regular army. WASP were not extended the same benefits as men either, the 38 women who were killed during the program could not be buried with military honors, and their bodies were shipped home at the expense of their families.
The women signed up because it was their passion – many of them had dreamed of flying since an early age. The WASP program presented them an opportunity to serve their country while living their dream.