~ Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold
Farewell speech to the WASP,
December 20, 1944
- WASP Assigned Bases (pdf)
The WAFS and the first five classes to graduate under Jackie were assigned to ferry planes from factories to points of embarkation. Later graduates were also test and drone pilots, instrument and link instructors, administrative pilots, and target towers thanks to Jackie who issued a call to all base commands that the WASP would accept any job that would relieve men for combat duty.
As a result, the WASP were no longer just ferrying planes from one base to another. Now they would have an opportunity to fly, not just some, but all the planes the Army Air Forces possessed in its arsenal of air power.
Two women went on to fly the B-29, demonstrating that WASP could fly the nation’s newest and largest bomber. Others flew alongside male pilots in planes such as the B-26 and B-17. After graduation, many of the pilots transitioned to duties involving fighters and medium to heavy bombers.
In other instances, the WASP gladly accepted their assigned duties without question or hesitation. When it came to being a test pilot, a critical job to every air base in the country, male pilots were often reluctant and in some instances refused. These future combat pilots believed that if they were going to risk their lives, it should be in combat … not in the maintenance testing of aircraft.
During March 1944, Cochran began sending WASP to bases where their primary duty was to test-hop patched-up aircraft, and aircraft that had been “written up” by instructors and students following flight operations. Approximately 130 WASP served in this risk-filled, hazardous duty at 48 bases around the country.
The WASP also flew tracking and searchlight missions; towed gliders and targets; and delivered weapons, cargo, and personnel. Some became flight instructors, and many others were involved in the testing of aircraft. One highly classified project during the war involved flying radio-controlled target planes. No WASP publicly voiced any fears or concerns.
In addition to flying every type of mission any Army Air Force male pilot flew during World War II except combat, the WASP delivered 12,650 aircraft representing 78 different types to bases throughout the nation. Many more were allowed to test rocket-propelled planes, pilot jet-propelled planes, and work with radar-controlled targets before the program would eventually be disbanded.
page last updated 8/9/2013 11:55 AM