National WASP WWII Museum
This museum opened in 2005 and shares the story of the Women Air Service Pilots who served the United States during WWII by piloting aircraft across the continental United States. Over a thousand pilots were trained in Houston and Sweetwater and became part of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron and the Women’s Flying Training Detachment. The service of these women came at a vital time when there was an acute shortage of pilots, so their actions allowed more of the trained male pilots to fly combat missions in both Europe and the Pacific. The museum shares the story of the women who trained at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. While these women were expert pilots who flew military and civilian aircraft that were vital to the war effort, and despite the support of the Commander of the Army Air Forces, it was not until 1977 that Congress voted to grant veteran status to these women. President Jimmy Carter signed the bill into law declaring that these women had served in active duty in the armed forces of the United States.
Backstory and Context
The National WASP Museum was created in honor of the women who served as WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). The museum is the vision of former WASP Deanie Bishop Parrish and her daughter who presented their vision to the community of Sweetwater in 2002. The Grand Opening was held in 2005 and every year during Memorial Day weekend a Homecoming Event is held welcoming back graduates of the program.
In 1942 the country was lacking in male pilots and was in need of experienced ferrying pilots to ferry trainer aircraft to Southern flight schools. As such the U.S utilized 28 civilian women pilots to do just that, effectively forming the country's first female squadron.
"Girl Pilots." Time Magazine. Time MagazineJuly 19, 1943. , 73-81.