Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) in World War II

« Back to Projects Dashboard

view all


  • Betty Mae Riddle (1923 - 2012)
  • Helen Snapp (1918 - 2013)
    After high school, Helen attended Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va, planning to become a teacher. However, on summer break, she saw an ad in the paper for flying lessons. She convinced h...
  • Babette Edinger (1922 - 2012)
    -edinger-43-w-7-jan.html Babette learned to fly on a golf course in Evanston, IL as a teen. While serving as a WASP during World War II, she met and later married James Edinger, her husband of 65 y...
  • Emma Ware (1915 - 2011)
    "Both her father and grandfather were generals when generals rode horses instead of jeeps." She first attended Miss Voegle's School in Greensburg. She graduated from Miss Porter's School in Con...
  • Leona Zimmer (1920 - 2012)
    Leona was a member of WASP class 44-W-2 and, like all 112 trainees in her class, paid her own way to enter the Army Air Forces flight training program at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. After sev...

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), called "Women's Army Service Pilots" by some sources, was a paramilitary aviation organization. The WASP's predecessors, the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) organized separately in September 1942. They were the pioneering organizations of civilian female pilots, employed to fly military aircraft under the direction of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.

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 over 60 million miles in every type of military aircraft.[2] The WASP was granted veteran status in 1977, and given the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.

Over 25,000 women applied; however, only 1,074 were accepted into the WASPs. The accepted women all had prior experience and airman certificates. Of those accepted, the majority were white; aside from white women, the WASP had two Mexican American women, two Chinese American women (Hazel Ying Lee and Maggie Gee), and one Native American woman (Ola Mildred Rexroat). Due to the existing climate of racial discrimination, the only African American applicant was asked to withdraw her application. 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. So great was the resentment of male pilots at some air fields, there are suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of three WASPs, for example, sugar found in the gas tank.

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.

"This is not a time when women should be patient. We are in a war and we need to fight it with all our ability and ever weapon possible. WOMEN PILOTS, in this particular case, are a weapon waiting to be used."

Eleanor Roosevelt, 1942