Masters Thesis

Out of the clouds: the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots of World War II

The Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program was active from July 1943 to December 1944. After eighteen months of service, the program was abruptly disbanded and classified until 1977. The pilots were sent home, receiving no veteran’s pay, benefits, or recognition. Thirty-eight women died while training or on missions, and their fellow female pilots took up collections to send their bodies home. Military documents state that having women on bases distracted the men and the women were not held to the same pilot training standards. Books written by the WASP and other scholars tell a very different story. Why were they disbanded before the end of the war when they were still needed, and why were they classified? Prejudice, of the men against the women, of soldiers who felt that a woman veteran would diminish the standing of the veteran, and of a congress that was concerned with elections and voters