During the Second World War, women served as pilots for the Army Air Corps. They ferried (delivered) aircraft across the continental U.S. so that male pilots would be available to fly in overseas combat. While they served under military conditions, technically they were civilians in the employment of the Army. The following New Jersey women share their memories of service with the W.A.S.P. during World War Two.
"I got into flying because some guy said, 'I bet you can't do that!' He happened to be my best friend's husband. I had just graduated from college and was back at my old high school teaching Phys. Ed. I was right next door to a junior college that was offering a C.P.T. course, which was a Civilian Pilots Training course. It was originally just for men, but then they decided they would allow one woman for every nine men. Well, guess who was the first to hot foot it up and be the first to join!!... Mrs. Johnson.
"Believe it or not, but I soloed in a plane before I could drive a car! My father didn't believe that girls should drive, so he taught my brothers but not me. I rode my bike out to the airfield. We didn't think we were out to do anything great, we were just plane hounds! To get flying time and not pay for it, that was heaven!"...Mrs. Johnson.
"Basic flight school took six months. We received the same training as the men, the only exception is that we didn't need formation flying"...Mrs. Starr.
"25,000 applied for the W.A.S.P. training. 1,800 were accepted and of those, 1074 graduated. So you're looking at one of the few!"...Mrs. Johnson.
"I was proud to be one of 19 women chosen to be trained to fly B-52's. The same planes Jimmy Doolittle used to bomb Tokyo. That plane was hot! I loved it madly!"...Mrs. Johnson.
"We would tow targets so the ack-ack (anti-aircraft) gunners could train. But we had to remind them that we were towing the targets, not pushing them! Guess where the ack-ack was hitting."...Mrs. Johnson.
"We were lead by Jackie Cochran, who was quite a gal! She had several flight records, and I had won the Bendix Prize in 1939. She was our fearless leader!"...Mrs. Johnson.
"Towards the end of the war, I was given an assignment to ferry a B-29 to a base on the west coast. Now the B-29 was a huge 4 engine plane, the largest plane to fly in the war. As I approached the base, I radioed ahead for instructions. The tower came on and told me to get off the air because a B-29 was coming in! I got back on and said: 'Mister, I am the B-29!'"...Mrs. Starr.
"We were disbanded on December 20, 1944, because of the men. They had so many pilots that they were being transferred to the infantry, which they didn't like. So they said: "why are these women flying?'"...Mrs. Johnson.
"We were civilians working for the army. In 1979 we were finally accorded veterans status."...Mrs. Starr.
- Express artistically or write a paragraph describing your interpretation of the emotions expressed above