Quietly and efficiently, the Women's Airforce Service Pilots are setting an enviable record as civilian employees of the Army Air Forces.
. . . Isabel Fenton, of West Springfield, Mass., was flying a Vega Ventura about 6,000 feet over the dunes off Camp Davis, N.C., the other day hauling an airplane target for a battery to shoot at. In 20 rounds the 90's got the target and the target fell blazing into the sea. There were cries of "Ah!" and "Oh!" and "Good shooting!" from the gallery of press and radio representatives and officers. But as the Ventura wiggled its wings and swung off for its base a grizzled colonel mumbled into his mustache.
"Hell, they missed the girl!"
There was some nervousness among the antiaircraft crews training at Davis when they learned that their targets were towed by girl pilots. . . .But the WASPs are going steadily ahead and the gunners are learning to shoot. And the records show they are both doing it well.
talk intelligently of their jobs. There is plenty of kidding and horseplay,
too. And all of them are looking forward to further participation in
the other projects, now under restriction, but which will be announced
as their usefulness to the Army Air Forces is increasingly proven.
by John Stuart for Flying Magazine, January, 1944
General Henry "Hap" Arnold, Commanding General of the Army Air Forces to the last WASP Graduate Class, Dec 7, 1944
I am glad to be here today for a talk with you girls who have been making aviation history. You and all WASP have been pioneers in a new field of war-time service, and I sincerely appreciate the splendid job you have done for the AAF. . . .
The possibility of using women to pilot military aircraft was first considered in the summer of 1941. We anticipated then that global war would require all of our qualified men and many of our women. . . .England and Russia had been forced to use women to fly trainers and combat-type aircraft. Russian women were being used in combat.
In that emergency I called in Jacqueline Cochran, who had herself flown almost everything with wings and several times had won air races from men who now are general officers of the Air Forces. I asked her to draw a plan for the training and the use of American women pilots. She presented such a plan in late 1941 and it formed the basis for the Air Force's use of the WASP.
Frankly, I didn't know in 1941 whether a slip of a young girl could fight the controls of a B-17 in the heavy weather they would naturally encounter in operational flying. Those of us who had been flying 20 to 30 years knew that flying an airplane was something you did not learn overnight.
But, Miss Cochran said that carefully selected young women could be trained to fly our combat-type planes....
Certainly we haven't been able to build a plane that you can't handle. From AT-6's to B-29's, you have flown them around like veterans. One of the WASP has even test-flown our new jet plane. . . .
The WASP have completed their mission. Their job as been successful. But as it usual in war, the cost has been heavy. Thirty-eight WASP have died while helping their country move toward the moment of final victory. The Air Forces will long remember their service and their final sacrifice.
So, on this last graduation day, I salute you and all WASP. We of the AAF are proud of you; we will never forget our debt to you. " - Hap Arnold