During World War II the WASP pilots (Women’s Air Service Pilots) needed a leather flight jacket. Most were issued with the typical A-2 Army Air force jacket but some had jackets custom made to replicate the Army issue in a softer more feminine lambskin with the traditional patch pockets of the A-2 and custom side entry hand warmer pockets. Our WASP Flight jacket features a soft synthetic lining with a beautifully printed and embroidered patriotic motif. Features one inside pocket, knit cuffs and waist and leatherneck hanger loop. Proudly made in USA.
By the summer of 1941, Florida native Jackie Cochran and test-pilot Nancy Harkness Love, two famous women pilots, independently submitted proposals to the U.S. Army Air Forces to use women pilots in non-combat missions after the outbreak of World War II in Europe. Their motivation was to free male pilots for combat roles by employing qualified female pilots to ferry aircraft from factories to military bases, and to tow drones and aerial targets. Prior to Pearl Harbor, General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, commander of the USAAF, had turned down both Love's 1940 proposal and that of the better connected and more famous Cochran, despite the lobbying by Eleanor Roosevelt.
By the mid-summer of 1942, Arnold was willing to consider the prior proposals seriously. Tunner and Love's plan was reviewed by the ATC headquarters. The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) was headed by Mrs. Love, and went into operation on September 10, 1942. Soon, the Air Transport Command began using women to ferry planes from factory to airfields.
Each WASP had a pilot's license. They were trained to fly "the Army way" by the U.S. Army Air Forces at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. More than 25,000 women applied for the WASP, and fewer than 1,900 were accepted. After completing four months of military flight training, 1,074 of them earned their wings and became the first women to fly American military aircraft.
The WFTD and WAFS were merged on August 5, 1943, to create the paramilitary WASP organization. The female pilots of the WASP ended up numbering 1,074, each freeing a male pilot for combat service and duties.
They flew sixty million miles of operational flights from aircraft factories to ports of embarkation and military training bases. They also towed targets for live anti-aircraft artillery practice, simulated strafing missions, and transported cargo. Women in these roles flew almost every type of aircraft flown by the USAAF during World War II. In addition, a few exceptionally qualified women were allowed to test rocket-propelled planes, to pilot jet-propelled planes, and to work with radar-controlled targets. Between September 1942 and December 1944, the WASP delivered 12,650 aircraft of 78 different types.
Thirty-eight WASP fliers lost their lives while serving during the war, all in accidents. Eleven died in training and twenty-seven on active duty. Because they were not considered military under the existing guidelines, a fallen WASP was sent home at family expense without traditional military honors or note of heroism. The army would not allow the U.S. flag to be placed on the coffin of the fallen WASP.
All records of the WASP were classified and sealed for 35 years, so their contributions to the war effort were little known and inaccessible to historians. In 1975, under the leadership of Col. Bruce Arnold, son of General Hap Arnold, the WASP fought the "Battle of Congress" in Washington, D.C., to have the WASP recognized as veterans of World War II. They organized as a group again and tried to gain public support for their official veteran recognition.
"The Women Airforce Service Pilots courageously answered their country's call in a time of need while blazing a trail for the brave women who have given and continue to give so much in service to this nation since. Every American should be grateful for their service, and I am honored to sign this bill to finally give them some of the hard-earned recognition they deserve."
President Barack Obama
On May 10, 2010, the 300 surviving WASPs came to the US Capitol to accept the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their servivce.