Monday, March 24, 2014

AFA Celebrates Women’s History Month

The Air Force Association (AFA) is proud to celebrate Women’s History Month, using this time to reflect on significant moments in airpower history made by women and to celebrate their courage and commitment throughout history.

Established in 1929, the Ninety-Nines were an international organization for the advancement of women pilots. At that time in history, there were 117 women pilots in the US. An invitation to establish an organization for female pilots was sent out and 99 women responded to the invitation, thus forming the Ninety-Nines.

In 1942 a shortage of combat pilots opened the door for women pilots. By September, nearly 30 civilian women pilots were recruited to fly ferrying missions for the Air Transport Command. The ATC then created a special squadron: Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron.

At the same time, a flying training program for women pilots was created comparable to the one being taken by the AAF cadets. By the end of the seven months of military training, more than 1,000 women pilots graduated, and flew every type of military aircraft and every type of mission any AAF pilot flew, except combat.

In August 1943, the two groups were combined and named the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). They flew more than 60 million miles for their country. But on December 20, 1944, with the war winding down, the organization was disbanded. AFA had the pleasure of honoring these extraordinary women during the 2010 Air & Space Conference with AFA’s Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Countless extraordinary individuals help represent a proud heritage for women in the armed forces. To name a few wouldn’t do justice to the many. We, at AFA, salute the many outstanding figures, as well as organizations, who have dedicated themselves to this country. We honor your service, we salute your dedication, and we appreciate your sacrifices and perseverance.

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