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Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager

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The United States' entrance into the second World War gave rise to many challenges and some far reaching changes in our labor forces.  manpower needs were at their highest in our history.  The need for military pilots especially was critical.

This is Chuck Yeager speaking and I'd like to share with you a little known fact in history.  That need for pilots was answered by enactment of the Women Airforce Service Pilots Program.

One thousand and seventy-four well trained and well qualified women pilots joined this war effort, voluntarily, to release male pilots for combat duty.  Public law then, and still today, prevents women pilots from flying combat.star

The WASP as they were known, flew more than sixty million miles in 78 different types of military aircraft, ferrying them from the manufactuer to points of debarkation for overseas and operational squadrons.  They flew war weary aircraft to repair depots; they instructed male pilots and flew military aircraft on navigational training flights.  The WASP performed routine testing of military aircraft; flew administrative missions; towed targets for live gunnery practice and in total flew every type mission except combat.

They were based in more than a hundred different bases in the United States.  Jacqueline Cochran, a very good friend of mine and one of the world's most accomplished pilots, male or female, was Director of the WASP.

Nancy Harkness Love, a pioneer in developing the use of women ferrying pilots was Staff Executive, Ferrying Division of the air Transport Command.

This pioneering experimental program far exceeded what had been expected of it.  In the words of General Hap Arnold, Commander of the Army Air Forces during World War II, said the WASP proved that they could fly wing tip to wing tip with their brothers in the sky at a time of critical need in our country.  They paved the way and became role models for women military pilots of today.

Chuck Yeager
Brig Gen USAF Ret

This audio was copied with permission from the
"Historical W.W.II Medley of WASP Songs & Verse"