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Most content in this section was compiled and donated by WASP Mary Lou Neale, now passed away. To read more about Mary Lou, click here.

WASP One-on-One


Interview with Catherine Bridge

One of the many challenges for these early pilots was finding uniforms to fit a non-male aviator!

Uh...small problem!

When the order went out to the unenlightened Supply Corp to supply flight gear, they assumed (of course) that meant for men. The WASPs had great fun clowning around in those ill-fitting garments.

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Drawing by Dot Swain
from "We Were WASPs."
Click to enlarge


Ferrying also had its tense moments.

(May 1988, Lightning Strikes)

Nancy Batson Crews delivered many P-38s from California to the P.O.E. at Newark, N .J., but one trip left her less than ecstatic. Preparing to land at Pittsburgh, she saw that the nose wheel was not coming down. Although weary from the three-hour leg, she dutifully set to work with the manual pump.

“Ah lost track of the number of pumps," recalls Alabama-born Crews, "But mah arm sure was sore." Finally, when the nose wheel still would not budge, she used the C02 bottle . Ferry pilots had been instructed not to touch emergency equipment and WASPs assiduously obeyed instructions.  But enough  was enough.

Nancy Batson Crews

So the landing was made, and the plane was inspected. After a day's delay and the assurance that the problem had been fixed, Crews took off for Newark. As she approached , guess what? Same balky nose wheel. This time exasperated ferry pilot said the equivalent of "to-H-with-it" and blew it down again.

That was one P‑38 which did not receive the customary friendly farewell pat.

Nancy CrewsNancy Batson Crews
High school cheerleader, campus queen, airplane pilot, wife, mother, politician and business-woman!

Read more about Nancy Batson Crews: Alabama's First Lady of Flight"

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"You have shown that you can fly wingtip to wingtip with your brothers. If ever there was doubt in anyone's mind that women could become skilled pilots, the WASPs dispelled that doubt. I want to stress how valuable the whole WASP program has been for the country."

General H. H. "Hap" Arnold
Sweetwater, TX ♦ Dec 7, 1944

Helpful WASP Links

Wings Across America
Wings Across America: WASPs

National WASP WWII Museum

Female WWII Pilots: The Original Fly Girls (Get the DVD on Amazon)

Air Force Historical Studies

We Served Too documentary

WASPs

ORIGINS OF THE WASPs
Ferrying Division Air Transport Command

Up until three o'clock in the afternoon of May 29, 1941, there was no organization of any kind in American military aviation to provide for either the delivery of planes or air transport of material.

By the end of that day, the Air Corps Ferrying Command, which grew into the Air Transport Command with its major component the Ferrying Division, was in existence with an assigned military personnel of two. William H. Tunner, a Major, was one of the two. By June 1944 there were 50,000 personnel, 8,500 of which were pilots and the Major was a General.

Tunner Quote

William H. Tunner ("Over the Hump")

Those chosen for ferry duty in the early part of the war were the experienced pilots of the time, most from civilian life. Among them were many famous names - Barry Goldwater, Gene Autry, racing pilot Joe de Bona, and Indianapolis racer Rex Mays. Usually considered too old for the combat training much to their disappointment, they had nevertheless been welcomed into the Ferrying Division of the Army Air Corps, Ferrying Division. They performed the invaluable service of flying all military aircraft types from factories to various destinations around the world.

Enter the WASPs

By September 1941, the shortage of pilots was acute and licensed women pilots were selected for ferrying duty.

Although restricted to flights within the U. S., they satisfactorily crisscrossed the country in all directions to deliver various types of planes (i.e., primary, basic and advanced trainers, small tow-target planes and large cargo carriers).

Eventually over a thousand women were hired to fly military planes, with 303 in the Ferry Division. This dropped to less than 150 when the restrictions for women to remain in ferrying demanded qualification in fighter aircraft, because many preferred other duties such as target towing, instrument instructing, flight testing after repair and overhaul, etc.

Those remaining in the AFC ferried all types of fighters, bombers, drones, and transports to assigned destinations within the confines of North America. Besides the twin and four engine bombers such as the B‑25, A‑20, B‑26 and B‑17, these women ferried the single engine P‑39, P‑40, P‑47, P‑51 and P‑63 plus the twin engine pursuits, the P‑38 and the P‑61.

After completion of Pursuit School for the P‑39, P‑40, P‑47 and P‑51 the pilot returned to home base (Long Beach, Palm Springs, Dallas, Wilmington or Romulus). There the types of fighters to be delivered largely depended on geography. Although capable of flying any of the four, Wilmington pilots consistently flew P‑47's from the nearby Republic factory, Romulus WASPs went to Bell for the P‑39's and P‑63's, and those from Dallas, Long Beach, and Palm Springs had P‑51's to deliver, being close to either a modification center or the North American factory.

Orders for flying the various types of pursuits and bombers usually depended upon one's base of operation. Those in the west near the Lockheed factory, considered themselves extremely fortunate to have access to the famous P‑38 "Lightning." Some few of these pilots were able, because of seniority and luck, to ferry the Lockheed P‑38 and Northrop P‑61 Black Widow. Only twenty-three WASPs were so fortunate as to ferry the P‑38 to destinations in WWII.



38 WASPs Died while Serving our Country
In Memoriam


We ran across this cool painting called "Lightning Lady" -- which is a tribute to the WASPs, and it looks like you can order a print from the artist, Stan Vosburg, if you like it as much as we do!

Lightning Lady

Another great painting (Artist is Gil Cohen).

During the late Autumn of 1944 on the tarmac of the Lockheed Aircraft Plant in Burbank, California, a group of four Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) are gathered around their flight leader.

WASP Special Delivery

The P-38 Association does not receive a commission from referring you to these artists. We just thought they were neat.

 
WASPs Awarded Congresssional
Gold Medals

Fifinella Logo

The unofficial logo for the WASPs was Fifinella designed for them by Walt Disney as a thank you for all their hard work on behalf of America.

Check out our CafePress shop.

Fifinella


Evelyn Sharp

Evelyn Sharp ("Sharpie) was one of the original Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) pilots with over 3,000 flight hours logged when she joined. The WAFS (under Nancy Love) were soon merged with the Women's Flying Training Detachment (under Jacqueline Cochran) to form the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs).

Evelyn Genevieve Sharp

Sharp was the only WASP to die in a P-38. On April 3, 1944 in Cumberland County, PA, the Lightning she was ferrying lost an engine on takeoff and crashed.

She was 24 years old.


To read more about these heroines, check out these WASP books. (Many more can be found here on Amazon.)

Evelyn Sharp Evelyn Sharp book

Jackie Cochran

Great Women in Aviation
#1 - Jackie Cochran

Jackie Cochran

A WASP Among Eagles
A WASP Among Eagle
s: A Woman Military Test Pilot in World War II