Women Test Pilots

By: Kaitlin Espey


If you enjoy learning about World War Two, you will be blown away by the incredible story of the WASPs. Women Airforce Service Pilots, also known as WASPs remains greatly unknown. However, we do know that they were a little known group of female pilots who performed many duties short of combat during World War Two.We also, know that this program was created in 1942. When the military finally became aware that if they created this program it would allow male pilots to go to war. Also, they only flew in the U.S. because congress prohibited them from going into combat and, identifying them as official military members. Some of the largest bomber planes were flown by the WASPs and, around 25,000 women signed up for the job but only 1,800 were chosen .Out of those 1,800 who received the job only 1,074 female pilots got their wings.


Avenger Field opened in 1941 and, became the largest all-female air base in American history.A WASPs flight school was founded at Houston's Municipal Airport in 1942. This place outgrew its facilities and was repositioned to Avenger Field in Sweetwater, TX. The school ran here from February 20, 1943 all the way to December 7, 1944. This program managed to successfully train women to fly every type of oversea duty.


The classes came to the WASPs program at Avenger Field monthly. However only 18 classes finished training; 8 classes finished in 1943 and, another 10 classes finished in 1944. The first course of the class lasted 4 months long. Even, though the times were manageable 115 hours of flying were required. Along with a total of 180 hours of ground construction. By the end of 1943 training had expanded up to 27 weeks, and the flying hours had expanded to 210 hours.


The WASPs were working for the Civil Service program. It was predicted that they would someday become apart of the Army when they could find a place for them to fit in. In matter of fact, bills were made out to Congress to give them military ranks, but even with the help of General Arnold , all efforts were unsuccessful to get the WASPs into the military.On December 20, the Army Air Forces shut down the WASPs program. The WASPs were brought back to civilizational life but, were given no veterans' benefits. Then, in 1977 Congress finally allowed benefits to the remaining WASPs. Recently just last month, President Obama signed a bill that allows the WASPs to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. Which, is the highest award for civilians. Before, that President Carter had allowed the WASPs veteran status.


Avenger Field continued to be a WASP training base until December, 1944 when it shut down, having fulfilled its destiny. During its presence 1,074 women test pilots were trained at the facility along with the 38 pilots that gave their lives to our country. The legacy of the field was made during the year 1943 to 1944. When, the air force base became the training spot for the WASPs. These Licensed female pilots were enrolled and trained to fly military aircraft. Flying them across the U.S. from the factory to the shipping point and, occasionally flying damaged planes back for repair. This allowed more male pilots to be sent into the war where they were most needed.


Jacqueline Cochran was, a natural-born pilot who held more speed, distance and altitude records than any other aviator, male or female. Cochran was a part of "Wings for Britain" before the U.S. entry into World War Two began. Because, she delivered American aircraft to Britain, she became the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic Ocean. She first began working for the British. Then, after the U.S. she became a combatant. It was Cochran who came up with the idea, of having a unit of female transport pilots in the U.S.

Henery Arnold

Henry Arnold created a flight training program for women during World War Two. Pressured for pilots during the mid-summer of 1942, General Arnold asked that Cochran returned from England and put her WASPs plan into action. Houston’s Howard Hughes Field had been a WASP training facility, however heavy fogs and civilian air traffic caused the move to

Sweetwater, TX.