Women’s Air Force Service Pilots: They Were Equal To Men in Training and Skill


Women’s Air Force Service Pilots: They Were Equal To Men in Training and Skill
Vic Caudillo
Faculty Advisor
David Doellinger
During World War II (1941-1945), the United States manufacturing industry produced products for the war effort in extraordinary numbers. In the aircraft industry alone planes were built at such an alarming rate that manufacturers were rolling pursuit aircraft (P) or fighters, and bombers (B) at one an hour to a total of 13,738 P-40’s, 14,686 P-51’s, 12,692 B-17’s just to name a few. The Air Force2 needed skilled pilots to fly them from manufacturing plant to various Air Force bases. One group of pilots that would assists in this ferrying venture was the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). From 1942 through 1944 these women in training and knowledge, were equal to their male counterparts. Their ability to ferry any aircraft that was manufactured came because of two enterprising women, Jacqueline Cochran and Nancy Love. Even though these two women had an important part in getting the WASPs off the ground, the key ingredient to the success of the WASPs was their military training. During the twenty-four months that the WASPs were operating, they went through various training changes. At first because of the large amount of flying hours required the first set of women had only minimal military training depending on their experience. Then in 1943 the demand for more pilots reduced the required flying time for WASP applicants thus implementing a military structured training school just as the men. This revamped training included a ground school that included theory of flight, engines, navigation and instruments plus other subjects. They also had to increase their flying time on military aircraft starting with primary trainers (PT), then to basic trainers (BT), and finish with advanced trainers (AT). This additional training meant that the women would be in training for approximately four months to seven and a half depending on the time of entry to training. Because of this training the WASPs would be the equivalent of their male counterparts in ability to handle military aircraft. However not all writers chose to concentrate on training when writing about the WASPs.
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