womens airforce service pilots

Janet Bragg (1907-1993) was the first African American who was awarded a Commercial Pilot License. She achieved this in 1934, despite constant adversity on the grounds of her gender and her race.

An amateur aviator, she enrolled in a School of Aeronautics in Chicago in 1928, the first black woman to do so. She furthered her studies at the Aeronautical University as only one woman among 24 male colleagues. Even though she applied to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots programme, she was refused because of her race, just as her application to be a military nurse was rejected from the same reason.

anonymous asked:

Do you have any WWI/WWII books that you could recommend, after reading Salt to the Sea I'm obsessed with historical fiction🙌🏼

Oh man we’ve got some good ones! 

The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen 


This award-winning novel about a young Jewish girl who finds herself transported back in time to the middle of the Holocaust is a can’t miss read full of emotion, horror, heart, and power. Jane Yolen is a master storyteller who handles history with a deft hand. Her newest book, Mapping the Bones, is also set during the Holocaust, and will be in stores next March. 


Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

If you loved Salt to the Sea you’ll also love Ruta Sepetys other WWII book, Between Shades of Gray about a young girl and her family as they are sent to a prison camp in Siberia after Soviet forces invade her Lithuanian village. Full of heart, hope, and tears, this is one book you’ll never forget. 


Flygirl by Sheri L. Smith 

All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly, but as a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana, she knows she can’t… that is until America enters World War II, and the Army forms the WASP - Women Airforce Service Pilots. Ida uses her light skin to pass as a white, but struggles with the internal repercussions of her actions. Moving, hopeful, and self affirming this is one you don’t want to miss! 


Looking for more great historical reads? Check out these great picks! 

Women pilots often served important roles for testing and ferrying aircraft from the manufacturing plants to air bases for deployment into theaters of operation.  Over time, their efforts have garnered more deserved attention for their service.

Additional Information:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_Airforce_Service_Pilots

My Blogs:

Beautiful Warbirds
Full Afterburner
The Test Pilots
P-38 Lightning
Nasa History
Science Fiction World
Fantasy Literature & Art

Shirley Slade, WWII WASP pilot of B-26 and B-39.

In 1942, the United States was faced with a severe shortage of pilots, so an experimental program to replace males with female pilots was created. The group of female pilots was called the Women Airforce Service Pilots — WASP for short. Shirley Slade was one of about 1,100 chosen. She was trained to fly the B-26 and B-39, and that got her put on the cover of Life magazine in 1943 at about 23 years old.

Shirley Slade, WWII WASP pilot of B-26 and B-39.

In 1942, the United States was faced with a severe shortage of pilots, so an experimental program to replace males with female pilots was created. The group of female pilots was called the Women Airforce Service Pilots — WASP for short. Shirley Slade was one of about 1,100 chosen. She was trained to fly the B-26 and B-39, and that got her put on the cover of Life magazine in 1943 at about 23 years old.

Disney During World War II: Fifinella and The Women of WASP

Fifinella was a female ‘gremlin’ originally created by Walt Disney Productions for an unmade film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, The Gremlins. During World War II, the Fifinella Patch (a.k.a. ‘Fifi’) was worn by a heroic group of young American servicewomen – the Women Airforce Service Pilots, a.k.a. WASP.

The women of WASP were the first females trained to fly American military aircraft. Together, they flew over 60 million miles, piloting every type of military aircraft. They ferried new planes to air bases and piloted planes towing targets for anti-aircraft gunnery training. Ultimately, 38 members of WASP died while serving their country in this manner.

Sadly, when their service was no longer needed, the women of WASP were released from duty without veteran rank or GI benefits. Making matters worse, all records of the WASP were classified and sealed for 35 years, making their contributions to the war effort virtually unknown to historians until 1975!

The Fifi patch, like most other Disney-themed unit patches worn during WWII, was designed by Hank Porter.

For lots more info about what Disney was doing during WWII, check out John Baxter’s beautiful book, Disney During World War II: How the Walt Disney Studio Contributed to Victory in the War.

Dressing for the skies with Hera Syndulla


It’s no secret that Hera Syndulla is my favourite character - take on an Empire and fight to death favourite. Yet, somehow, I have never written about her look beyond a single vague half-meta-half-ficlety thing. In part this was because I felt that her look was self-explanatory enough to speak for itself, but certain official writings and a few comments I have received suggested otherwise and gave me impetus to finally create this blog.

It’s Syndulla Sunday (just), so let’s get to it.

In its main, Hera’s costume is simple: an armoured flightsuit. It’s utterly pragmatic, designed for comfort in the pilot’s chair, ease whilst crawling around an engine room and protection whilst out in the field. The paler neckpiece is almost certainly a helmet seal for inevitable incidents. It is simple, and showcases to the galaxy the role that she plays whilst making her as unobtrusive as a Twi’lek can be in an Imperial galaxy. Perfect for allowing Kanan to play the lead. There is a lot of history built into this look, though. History of the galaxy far far away and our world.

Her armour in her s1-2 look neatly alludes to a leftover of the Clone War, hard and soft pieces combined, particularly in the seemingly floating pauldrons and gauntlet gloves (see yesterday’s Hondo post.) These shapes are echoed in S2 episode Homecoming when we finally see Cham, Gobi and Numa, but with obvious differentiations. In the Clone Wars the Rylothean Twi’leks seen appear to wear more traditional fashions, Cham being an outlier layering armour over a more formal look. When we catch up to him those traditional looks appear to have evolved directly to incorporate armour; unsurprising given the endless turmoil on Ryloth. Hera’s incorporation is similar but noticeably different, as is her colour pallette of warm colours against their cool blues as she has broken away and forged her own path of rebellion.

Naturally Hera’s flightsuit is a callback (callforward?) to the X-Wing pilots of the original trilogy in its basic composition, particularly in the webbing details and allusion to the lines of the OT mae wests. The silhouette is much more grounded in history whilst acting as a proto-precursor to Alliance flightsuits. The fuller volume and high-waist of her flightsuit feels like a direct reference to American WW2 WASPs - Women Airforce Service Pilots - one of whom was Jacqueline Cochran (note, Trek fans!) who was the first female pilot to fly a bomber across the Atlantic, and to later break the sound barrier. What better model for the only pilot to ever outfly Darth Vader, and the first pilot of the B-Wing?

Left: Bless that nerd; Right: WASP’s, including Jacqueline Cochran second from the right.

Hera’s flightcap and goggles are a direct salute to the wealth of pioneering early C20th aviatrixes (aviatri?), headphones playing again  in WW2 imagery and all adding to Hera’s pragmatism. (A quick note due to the official errors that referred to above: the flightcaps would typically be leather, quilted and heavily seamed for safety and security with a cotton drill lining. Pleated? Not so much, as pleating would introduce movement and looseness which would render the item impractical. The style of construction in Hera’s cap, other than aesthetic, is for fit and shaping allow as close and secure a fit as possible whilst working with Twi’lek anatomy.)

Amelia Earheart, Amy Johnson, Betty Jo Reed.

The wonderful @lorna-ka played directly on these historical influences in the amazing Mummy AU commission that she did for me. (sorry, had to throw it in here!)

So, not unlike Kanan Hera’s costume is one defensiveness, though driven more from a point of practicality and, in some small part, cultural divergance. Come S2 we finally see Hera sans goggles and headphones, creating a softer look within this boundaries. This is Hera relaxing, settling into her role in her crew and the comfort of being an active part of a larger organisation at last. It also displays trust, which is in a key element of her relationship with Sabine, but also a more subtle part of her development from S1 as she has learn to trust herself, her gut and her own priorities.

This development is furthered in her S3 look. It’s a less overt change than Kanan, Ezra and Sabine’s makeovers, but subtlety is more Hera’s way. As described by Filoni at SWCE:

Hera - because she’s much more a part of the growing rebels alliance - she has more of a military look, a uniform. She wears a rank badge now just to show that she’s really becoming a part of that formalised rebellion. [x]

She was formally granted the rank of captain within the fledgling Alliance in S2, not just of the Ghost, but is now wearing that openly. The addition of tech and pockets to her sleeves further lead into X-Wing pilot flightsuits of the OT. Her shirt has less of that soft historical shape and is more regimented and formal, the colours shifting into those OT greys (a shift that is being seen across Rebels’ colour palette as a whole.) However her silhouette is now much more of an open hybrid between the Ryloth looks worn by Cham and Numa in Homecoming. The open stand-collar shared with Cham, the shift in the cut of her chestplate is building more towards that worn by Numa. (Let it be known now that I am weak for stand collars, so I was absolutely delighted when this look was revealed at SWCE.) Given that we know Cham et al will be coming back in S3, and a trip to Ryloth proper is on the books (Scream), and Homecoming closed on a point of reconciliation between Hera andher father, this suggests a re-embracing of certain elements of Hera’s history and/or a deeper integration of Free Ryloth into the wider Rebellion. (i’m not sure how I would feel about the latter and certain points in Bloodline suggest otherwise. I am also pretty sure that Cham Syndulla would not be down with this.)

This is also a more open look, more vulnerable. The helmet seal is gone, she is less armoured and she is generally more exposed. Gauntlets replaced with short gloves (this an across-the-board shift towards short gloves seen in pretty much all characters, and is an obvious and active push towards that OT aesthetic.) As with the cap, this suggests a further relaxation into her role, and greater confidence in their growing organisation. Even without Kanan taking the role of field general (presumably given his blindness), Hera is settling more into position of, well, desk general, delegating missions and leadership positions to other Ghosts.

It is no longer Syndulla Sunday here, but it is somewhere! With a little luck, someday soon we will see Hera 1) wearing her nerd goggles, and 2) san cap.

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Lillian’s Story : In Color

“They didn’t want this out for a while. They wanted to see that it would work, and that women were competent enough to do the things that they were asking." 

-Lillian Yonally

When the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was formed in 1943, Ruth Cheney Streeter (1895-1990) became its first director. She was also the first woman to obtain the rank of major in the US Marine Corps.

She trained as a pilot, and tried unsuccessfully to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots, having been rejected five times on account of her age. While serving as the director of the USMCWR, she was promoted to colonel, and was awarded the Legion of Merit and the World War II Victory Medal.

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Today marks the 70th anniversary of the deactivation of the WASP program.

Elizabeth “Betty” Maxine Chambers was a young mother and a widow. Betty’s husband, Army pilot Lieutenant Robert William Chambers, died in 1942 when his P-38F Lightening aircraft crashed at Mills Field in San Mateo, California.

Undaunted, Betty applied to be among the first female pilots in the newly formed Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program. This innovative civilian program was designed to employ women to ferry wartime aircraft, serve as flight instructors, tow targets for live anti-aircraft practice, transport cargo, and fly experimental aircraft. These female pilots relieved men from domestic duties so they could fight overseas in the war.

The women were trained as rigorously as military pilots and were paid at a rate of $1,800 per year. Successful trainees were be stationed at one of 120 air bases, paid $3,000 per year, and reclassified as civilian pilots.

Like the majority of her fellow pilots, Betty Chambers received her training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. After training, Betty was sent to Turner Field in Albany, Georgia, then attended the Army Air Force Tactical School in Orlando, Florida. She was later stationed at Greenwood Army Air Field in Greenwood, Mississippi.

As male pilots returned from wartime service, WASP members in service at the end of 1944 were forced to resign.Men wanted to fly domestically and the country wanted women back at home to take care of their families.

Betty Chambers was among the  women whose service ended when the WASP program was disbanded.

On November 2, 1977, President Jimmy Carter passed Public Law 95-202, which granted military veteran status to all who served under the WASP program. In 2009, the highest medal awarded to civilians—the Congressional Gold Medal—was bestowed upon the Women Airforce Service Pilots.

Betty’s photograph (seen here) comes from her official personnel folders (OPFs).The National Archives at St. Louis maintains the civilian WASP (OPFs).

The administrative paperwork in these files reveals story after story of WASP adventures and history. OPFs are open to the public and photocopies of OPFs can be obtained for a fee. Please visit http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/archival-programs/civilian-personnel-archival/ for more information.

 Elizabeth ​"Betty" Maxine Chambers, WASP Class of 44-W-3, from her OPF, National Archives in St. Louis.

Telegram from Jacqueline Cochran summoning Elizabeth Chambers to WASP duty, from her OPF, National Archives in St. Louis.

Ola Mildred Rexroat

Art by  A.O.M. (tumblr)

During World War II, over one thousand American women served as Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).  WASPs flew domestic missions under US Army command, freeing more male pilots to serve overseas.  Stationed at 120 different bases, the WASPs ferried aircraft from factory to base, towed targets for live anti-aircraft artillery practice, and hauled cargo.  Over the course of the war, the WASPs logged sixty million miles of flying.  The program was disbanded in 1944 and although they were under Army command, the WASPs did not receive military benefits until 1977.  In 2009, they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.  

Oglala Lakota pilot Ola Mildred Rexroat was was one of only five women of color to serve with the WASPs and the only Native American WASP.  Ola graduated from WASP training on September 8, 1944 as a member of class 44-7.  She spent four months towing targets at Eagle Pass Army Airfield in Texas.  After the war, Ola worked as an air traffic controller and served in the Air Force Reserves.