America’s first women pilots who trained some of America’s WWII pilot will be attending the 39th Annual Sun N Fun Airshow in Lakeland April 1-6.
The reunion group consists of about 10 women all in their 90’s who flew everything the Army Air Corps had including the B-29 bomber. The women served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) from 1940 to 1944.
The women not only taught the men to fly but were also test pilots of newly built aircraft ferrying them to the coast for shipment overseas. Betty Wall said she is one of seven WAPS who taught aerial maneuvers through the canyons of Arizona.
Of the 1,074 WASP who graduated the training program, 39 died while flying for their country. The women never flew overseas, but logged 60 million miles of operational flights. Mrs. Wall said the government sealed their service records after WW II. The women never received Veterans Benefits until 1979 when they successfully lobbied congress.
In 2010, the women received the Congressional Gold Medal for their service to their country.
Some of their duties included, ferrying, engineering test pilots, flight instructor (basic and instrument), towing targets for anti-aircraft and aerial gunnery practice (with live ammunition), tracking and searchlight missions, simulated strafing and chemical missions.