Bessie Coleman was just one of several women who fought for
her right for a place among flying pioneers. From the very
first days of aviation women risked their lives to claim recognition
for aviation achievements. Amy Johnson & Harriet Quimby
were two others to hold such merits.
Amy Johnson (1903 - 1941)
Harriet Quimby (1884 - 1912)
Ameila Earhart (1897-1937)
It took the stamina of two women to create the first Corp
of women pilots for the US Army during World War II, Jackie
Cochran and Nancy Harkness Love. Independently, Cochran wrote
to Eleanor Roosevelt and Love wrote to Lieutenant Colonel
Robert Olds both about creating a squadron of women pilots
who could transport planes to military bases. They were met
with resistance. Again they (independently) submitted proposals
in 1942, this time the response was more enthusiastic. Cochran's
program was designed to train women to become pilots, while
Love's squadron was made up of women who already possessed
pilots licenses. In 1943 the two groups merged to become to
the Women's Air Force Service Pilots.
At the Army air bases in Kansas and Missouri, WASPS, or Women's
Air Force Service Pilots, were not officially recognized until
1979 when, 34 years after the war ended, they were given official
discharges and veteran benefits by the Assistant Secretary
of the Air Force.
The first group of WASPs arrived at Fairfax Airport in April
1944, most transferred from the 2nd Ferrying Group in Wilmington,
Delaware. The squadron lived at Hotel Boulevard Manor, 1115
East Armour Boulevard in Kansas City.
Many of the 1074 women who completed the program flew every
type of plane, including B-29s and B-17s.
38 WASPS lost their lives in crashes while ferrying planes
to military bases. One of those being Cornelia Fort, who would
become the first American woman to die on active military
Love (1914 - 1976)