Missions and jobs

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WASP tow pilots, from For God, country, and the thrill of it : Women Airforce Service Pilots in World War II. Courtesy of the University of Michigan via HathiTrust.

The Women Air Service Pilot program was established to relieve men from air transport duties and to pilot ferried planes from factories to points of embarkation.

However, the women pilots soon demonstrated that they could fly any plane in the Army and be of use for other non-combat missions. In 1944, WASPs were sent to bases where their primary duty was to test patched-up aircraft and planes that had been “written up” (marked as damaged) by instructors and students following flight operations.

Some 130 WASPs served in this risky role at 48 bases around the country. In addition to performing hazardous jobs, the women flew tracking and searchlight missions, towed gliders and targets, flew radio-controlled target planes, and delivered weapons, cargo, and personnel. In total, WASPs, representing 78 bases across the nation, delivered 12,650 aircraft. Many more tested rocket-propelled planes, piloted jet-propelled planes, and worked with radar-controlled targets before the program was disbanded in December 1944. Thirty-eight of these women died during their service: 11 in training and 27 during missions.