TWU's Kate Landeck book on WWII female pilots optioned for movie

Company behind the recent hit ‘Hidden Figures’ to produce

image of Kate Landdeck
Kate Landdeck

Texas Woman’s University’s Katherine Sharp Landdeck’s upcoming book, which centers on the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II, has been optioned as a film by Fox 2000. This movie company was behind the recent hit “Hidden Figures.”

Thomas Kail, director of “Hamilton,” will develop the project “Silver Wings,” based on Landdeck’s upcoming book “The Women with Silver Wings.” The book is the culmination of her 20 years of research on the Women Airforce Service Pilots, who were the first women to ever fly for the U.S. military.

“I am just thrilled that these amazing women, who are heroes in their own right as part of our ‘Greatest Generation,’ will finally get the recognition they have earned,” Landdeck said. “It has been the privilege of my professional and personal life to get to know these women over the years and to tell their stories. I can’t wait for the world to read, hear and see these amazing women in action.”

Landdeck, an associate professor at TWU, has taught history at the University since 2002. She recently sold her book to Penguin Random House’s Crown Imprint and its publication is slated for 2018. Filming on “Silver Wings” may begin as early as next year. Landdeck is represented by Jen Marshall of Aevitas Creative Management.

“Silver Wings,” will be produced by Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar, who won the best picture Academy Award for “Spotlight,” along with Kail and Kate Sullivan of Old 320 Sycamore production company. Fox 2000 President Elizabeth Gardner and Erin Siminoff will oversee the project. Angela Christian and Landdeck will serve as co-producers.

Texas Woman’s University, the nation’s largest university primarily for women, is home to the national archives of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). The WASP were the first women in history to fly for the U.S. military, serving between 1942 and 1944 at the height of World War II. 


Between 1942 and 1944, at the height of World War II, more than a thousand women left homes and jobs for the opportunity of a lifetime—to become the first in history to fly for the U.S. military. They volunteered as civilian pilots in an experimental Army Air Forces program to see if women could serve as pilots and relieve men for overseas duty. Originally, 25,000 women applied to the program, 1,830 were accepted and 1,074 graduated from training. Along with 28 women from an earlier program known as the WAFS, these women became the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II, better known as the WASP.

Under the determined leadership of Jacqueline Cochran, Nancy Harkness Love, and General Henry "Hap" Arnold, the WASP succeeded beyond all expectations. They ferried planes across the country from factories to points of embarkation, they towed targets behind planes to train ground and air gunners to fire at moving targets, they test flew planes after repairs, and any other domestic flying duty that the U.S. Army Air Forces needed done.

The WASP were originally stationed at the Howard Hughes Municipal Airport, Houston, Texas but were transferred to Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas in 1943. They received seven months of training including Primary, Basic, and Advanced training, the same as male cadets. The WASP were then stationed at 120 Army Air bases across the United States, where they flew 78 different types of aircraft, every aircraft the Army Air Forces flew, including the B-29. However, in December 1944, with more than 900 women on duty, the WASP were deactivated after a fight in Congress to make them an official part of the military failed.

Between 1944 and 1977, WASP, along with other supporters worked to have their service be both officially recognized and no longer classified as “civilian”. In 1977, a bill officially declared the WASP as “having served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States for purposes of laws administered by the Veterans Administration.” In 1984, each pilot was awarded the World War II Victory Medal and those who served for over one year were also given the American Theater Ribbon and American Campaign Medal.

Finally, on July 1st, 2009, President Obama signed the bill that would lead Congress to award WASP the Congressional Gold Medal. The WASP received the medal on March 10, 2010 at a ceremony in Washington D.C.

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Page last updated 4:55 PM, October 30, 2018