Wings Chief Executive Officer David Kerr was our guest on 9NEWS 11 a.m. He explained that the WASPS first came about in World War Two when the United States faced a severe stateside pilot shortage because so many male pilots were needed for overseas combat duty.
In 1944, during the graduation ceremony for the last WASP training class, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Henry "Hap" Arnold, said that when the program started, he wasn't sure "whether a slip of a girl could fight the controls of a B-17 in heavy weather."
"Now in 1944, it is on the record that women can fly as well as men," Arnold said.
A few more than 1,100 young women, all civilian volunteers, flew almost every type of military aircraft - including the B-26 and B-29 bombers - as part of the WASP program. They ferried new planes long distances from factories to military bases and departure points across the country. They tested newly overhauled planes. And they towed targets to give ground and air gunners training shooting - with live ammunition. The WASP expected to become part of the military during their service. Instead, the program was canceled after just two years.
They weren't granted military status until the 1970s. And now, more than 65 years after their service, they are the focus of the Wings Museum's "Spreading Wings 2012 Gala."
The evening will include video tributes by Brigadier General Dana Born, Dean of the Faculty at the United States Air Force Academy, Major Caroline Jensen, a Thunderbird pilot, and
Colonel Eileen Collins, former space shuttle commander.
9NEWS Traffic Anchor Amelia Earhart will be the evening's emcee.
For more information, please call 303.360.5360 X110 or visit http://www.wingsmuseum.org/
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