Military Gear & Army Surplus Gear Blog

“Women on the Wing”

“Women on the Wing”


  WOMAN: There was
a great need for pilots   in the dark days of 1942.   SECOND WOMAN: Everyone wanted
to do their patriotic duty.   These young women
had a passion to fly.   THIRD WOMAN:
25,000 women applied.   1,074 of us earned our wings.   FOURTH WOMAN: I have flown
43 different types of aircraft.   WOMAN: I flew both the B-17
and the B-26,   which was the Marauder.   SECOND WOMAN:
The actual name WASP–   it’s Women Air Force
Service Pilots.   FOURTH WOMAN: Well, I think
there were a lot of men   that didn’t believe women could
learn to fly military planes,   but we showed them.   WOMAN: The whole country
had to be revitalized, educated,   had to participate
in this huge event   of defeating the Axis powers.   Jacqueline Cochran thought
that she could help   if she could train women pilots
to fill the need.   You can’t have a pilot
overnight.   She promoted an idea
to General Hap Arnold.   She could recruit women
from around the United States,   and they could fill a need
for the flying jobs in America   and then let the trained pilots,
male pilots, go overseas,   and Hap Arnold agreed
to this idea.   How to do it was the question.   Well, Jackie Cochran
in Washington got a list,   somehow acquired a list
of all the women pilots,   licensed pilots,
in the United States,   and she tracked me down,
and she called me and asked me   to be in her first class.   So I was excited, and I got
on a plane and flew down there.   SECOND WOMAN: The first class
came to Houston, Texas.   That’s where
the training program was begun.   No one was prepared to deal
with 29 women   who were brought in to do
who knew what.   SEYMOUR: Was assigned
to the 1174th Squadron,   and Major Freddy Wilson
welcomed us,   and he had received a telegram
just two days before   to expect 17 women pilots,
and he said,   “My God, what am I gonna do
with 17 women pilots?”   and he said, “Aha, I know.   “I will assign them
to my 3 married instructors,   for they will know
how to handle women.”   Ha ha!   NEWSREEL NARRATOR:
To be accepted as a WASP,   each girl had to have
35 hours in the air beforehand,   enough to know men’s
airplane talk when they hear it.   The WASPs are willing to plow
into as rugged a 6-month stretch   as anything handed to women
in the whole war effort–   not reading and physics,
navigation and code   with strict AAF exams
in each, too.   For men, it would be tough.
It’s tough for girls, too.   BLAKE: Well, I think
there were a lot of men   that didn’t believe women could
learn to fly military planes.   I think we had to prove
ourselves.   We were called
the guinea pig class   because they weren’t sure
we were ever gonna make it,   but we showed them.   SEYMOUR: I’m a member
of the fifth class, 43-5,   and by this time,
the program was settled   in Sweetwater, Texas,
and it’s very hot, 100 degrees–   the wind is blowing–
120, you know?   We lived 6 to a bay,
had military regime,   and the lights
were turned out at 10:00.   We had a flashlight bed check.   We had lots of regulations,
and we marched.   We marched to class.
We marched to mess.   We marched to the flight line.   We marched to PT,
and we sang songs.   WOMAN: 7 Zoot suits
and parachutes 7   7 And wings of silver, too 7   7 Zoot suits and parachutes
and wings of silver, too 7   WOMAN: 7 He’ll ferry planes
like his father used to do 7   THIRD WOMAN:
All of our flight equipment–   the flight suits, everything–
were hand-me-downs from the men.   So the legs were rolled up
and stapled,   and the sleeves were rolled up,
and then I took the belt   and just put it on me and pulled
everything up here.   I looked like a mushroom
walking around on that base.   We went through the same
training that the men did:   ground school in the morning
and fly in the afternoon–   primary, basic, advanced,   night flying,
and instrument flying.   I think the hardest part
is always the check flight   with the Army pilots because,
oh, they were rough on us.   My class started out
with 150 girls.   49 of us got our wings.   That’s all that made it.   SEYMOUR: Jacqueline Cochran
came to for graduation,   and she wore a flowered dress
and flowered hat…   and when she handed me my wings,
they were cold,   and I remember squeezing them,
and I shook hands.   Then I said, “I did it.”   That was the most wonderful
saying you can ever,   those 3 words–“I did it.”    


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *