Jacqueline Cochran's

Final Report


INDEX: REPORT ON WOMEN  PILOT PROGRAM 

CHAPTER I

 

CHAPTER II

CHAPTERIII

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER XVIII

CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER XX

CHAPTER XXI

CHAPTER XXII

 


 

REPORT ON WOMEN PILOT PROGRAM

I

INCEPTlON OF WOMEN PILOT PROGRAM

The plan to use women pilots with the Army Air Forces was initiated in the summer of 1941. At that time the author of this report was assigned as civilian consultant with the staff of the Commanding Officer of the then new Ferry Command to study and make recommendations concerning the use of women pilots. The medical and flying records of each licensed woman pilot, to the extent available in the files of the Civil Aeronautics Administration, were analyzed and the projected flow of Army aircraft, particularly trainer planes, was also studied and equated into the then available and prospectively available male pilot material. Conclusion was reached that, except for not more than 100 licensed women pilots, the approximately 3,000 women holding licenses were not usable without advanced training in all cases and basic and even primary training in most cases; and that, even in the case of the approximately 100 experienced pilots, transitional training would be needed.

Some facts seemed evident at the time. In the first place, while there was a shortage of pilots, there was even a greater shortage of planes. In the second place, if women pilots were to serve a useful purpose in the air during the war, the number should not be limited to a few scores, and consequently there should be an overall approach involving a training program. The Commanding Officer of the Ferry Command was of the mind to hire as civilian ferry pilots, any women pilots available and qualified, on the same basis of control applicable to civilian male pilots being hired. It should be noted that at this time a great many experienced civilian male pilots were being used in ferry work who for one reason or another were not militarized (overage, employees of manufacturers, employees of air lines, etc.), and the Ferry Command did not have the same control over them as in the case of the AAF flying officers. The author believed that the start of any women pilot program should be well rounded in all aspects or the ultimate results from both the operational and experimental standpoints would be doubtful, and therefore urged that women pilots when employed be put under direction and discipline in non-operational as well as operational activities. This seemed particularly important considering that one of the purposes of any women pilot program was to determine the capabilities, limitations, strength, and weakness of women as pilots, and this could be done only by having them carefully selected, assigned, checked, and supervised.

The project that was recommended in the early fall of 1941 by the Commanding Officer of the Ferry Command was not accepted by the higher authorities because (1) for the time being there were more than sufficient male pilots to handle available planes, and (2) no provision was made in the recommendations for organization and supervision of the women pilots.

Shortly thereafter, the British Air Commission, with the approval of General Arnold, requested the author of this report to recruit and take to England for ferrying duties, a group of American women pilots, and she did, not only so this group could be of help to our Ally, but also for the purpose of gaining experience against the time women pilots might be brought into service with the U. S. Army Air Forces.

The 25 women who went to England in the spring of 1942 served in uniformed civilian capacity with the British Air Transport Auxiliary under contracts which ran for 18 months. They were the first organized group of American women pilots to serve in the alr in the war effort. One of this group, Mary Nicholson, of Greensboro, North Carolina, lost her life in the service, some others retired at the end of their contract periods and a few are still continuing to do ferry work in England. A detailed report on this group will be included in the supplemental report dealing comparatively with the women pilots abroad and those who served with the U.S. Army Air Forces in this country. Reference is made to this group here because they and their activities constituted a definite preliminary step in the development of the large scale AAF women pilot program that followed. These women, after their transition period of training in England, flew almost every type of plane, excluding only the four engine bomber, and were commended highly for their service by the Minister of Aircraft Production.

A women pilot program at home was activated in the period between 10 September and 14 September 1942, in two steps, (1) by the formation of an experimental squadron of experienced women pilots to do ferry work in the Air Transport Command, with no preliminary training other than the four to six weeks of transition and concurrent ground schooling to acquaint them with the operation of military aircraft, military organization and procedure, routes and related subjects, and (2) by the initiation of a training program for women pilots to provide all that would be used except the original experimental operating unit known as WAFS (Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron). Mrs. Nancy Harkness Love, one of the more experienced licensed women pilots, was put in command of the experimental ferry unit. The author returned from England to take charge of the women pilot training program. The two parts of the program for the time being were independent of each other, ferrying being entirely within the Air Transport Command and training being entirely within the Flying Training Command. Headquarters of the first ferrying unit were located at New Castle Army Air Base, Delaware, and headquarters for the women pilot training program were at Fort Worth, Texas. Thirty women pilots were taken directly into the ferry squadron: of whom two were released before being assigned to operational duties. All others passed first through the training program, which at the start was set up to complete the training of 500 women pilots, which number was later increased to more than 1000.

 

II

RECRUITING AND APPOINTMENT RECRUITING AND APPOINTMENT

Authority for direct recruiting of women pilot trainees was granted by the Civil Service Commission. The only appointments processed through the Civil Service Commission were those of employees of other Federal agencies, which were handled as transfers.

The announcement that a program to train women pilots was to be activated brought a flood of inquiries. An applicant who appeared from her letter to be qualified was placed on file to await an interview by a recruiting officer. At no time during the operation of the program was any effort necessary to secure prospective trainees, as there were always several hundred applicants on this waiting list. The selection was entirely a matter of choosing clean-cut, stable appearing young girls of the proper ages, educational background, and height, who could show the required number of flying hours properly noted and certified in a log book.

Representatives of the Director of Women's Flying Training visited all sections of the country for the purpose of interviewing applicants. If the results of the interview were satisfactory, the applicant was given various forms to be completed and returned to Headquarters. Applicant also received authorization for WD-AGO Form 64, physical examination for flying, showing location of the nearest flight surgeon where the examination could be had. The "recruiting officer" sent to Headquarters a completed interview card showing the result of the interview, the papers, if any, given the applicant, and the location of the flight surgeon named in the authorization. All further details up to the point of acceptance of the successful candidates were handled in the office of the Director of Women's Flying Training. The author, with this title, served with the general staff of the Flying Training Command in Fort Worth as a part of A-3.

The system outlined above continued until April 1944, when it was found possible to give applicants the Aviation Cadet Oualifying Examination. Passing scores on this screening test were the same as those in effect for cadets. Had the program continued, applicants entering training in August 1944 and thereafter would have received all tests given aviation cadets, including full Stanine. The minimum height for this August 1944 class was also raised to 64 inches.

Processing in the office of the Director of Women Pilots followed successful passing of medical examination and consisted of examination of Civil Service Form 57 and WASP application form to determine that all requirements were met, procurement from applicant of letter of release or statement of availability from the War Manpower Commission where necessary procurement of Civil Service transfer when necessary, or release from commanding officer where applicant was employed by a War Department agency. Insofar as possible, class assignments were made on the basis of date at which applicant met the preliminary requirements. Sufficient assignments were made to assure meeting quota for each class, and those who cleared after the quota had been met were held over to the next class. Record of medical examination was sent direct from the flight surgeon to the Air Surgeon's Office, and that office either qualified or disqualified and forwarded a copy to the Director of Women Pilots.

 

III

OBJECTIVES OF WOMEN PILOT PROGRAM

The objectives in activating the women pilot program were as stated by the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces:

    (1) To see if women could serve as military pilots and if so, to form the nucleus of an organization that could be rapidly expanded;

    (2) To release male pilots for combat;

    (3) To decrease the Air Forces' total demands on the cream of the manpower pool.

The experimental purpose of the program ranked along with but subordinate to the purpose of releasing male pilots from routine and non-combat duties for combat service. In the fall of 1942, it seemed clear that every pilot released from home duty for front line duty was needed urgently It was anticipated then and even before, that global war would require all of our qualified men and many of our women. But it was not known how many of our young men could qualify to pilot the tens of thousands of planes which American industry had undertaken to produce. The Navy the Ground Forces, and the Service Forces were all drawing heavily on our highly capable young men. If a woman could effectively handle a trainer plane it was a waste of manpower to have it handled by a pilot fully trained for higher duty If women could do the routine of towing targets; or tracking or searchlight missions, or ferrying, whether of a fighter or heavy bomber, it seemed wise to let them do so and release men who had already received combat training, or, of equal importance, release men for other branches of service who would otherwise have to be taken for flying training.

But all that was known about women as pilots was that about 3,000 had qualified for licenses, a few had done outstanding air work down through the years from the time of Harriet Quimby, Ruth Law, and other pioneer American women pilots. England had already found use for about all of their own and 25 of our American women pilots, and Russia, according to general information, was using women pilots even in combat and extensively in routine flying. How women pilots would prove out as a whole in relation to fatigue, strain, emergencies, and in connection with physiology peculiar to their sex, were largely unknown factors for determination. The women pilot program was started basically without the benefit of precedent The two objectives had to be kept in mind, i.e., saving of manpower and determination of what could be expected of women as pilots, should any wide scale need for their services develop. Changes in requirements, in training curriculum, and in other features of the program as it developed, were a natural consequence,

When the training program was inaugurated, there were no clear cut physical standards available. There were available only ideas and opinions in the absence of exact information about the specific influence certain conditions would have on the capacity of women regularly to fly military aircraft. There were nearly 6,000,000 single women in the United States between the ages of 18 and 28, and many more would be available if married women were included or the age limit raised above 28.

It was necessary, in order to meet with success, to determine that women in large groups could be trained as pilots to take over, efficiently, effectively and regularly, flying duties that would otherwise have to be performed by men. To do this, emphasis was placed on developing good operational pilots, rather than "hot" pilots. It was known that a few chosen pilots would be able to fly every type of plane. It was of importance to prove that a whole group of women, without special selection except for physical requirements, could be assigned to the Fortresses or the B-26's or the B-25's, pass through their transition training as successfully as the men pilots and thereafter carry on regularly in operations without undue fatigue or higher than normal accident rate. Stunts or "headline" flying was consequently discouraged. The WASP were continually cautioned to leave the glamor and glory for their brother pilots who were over the front lines, and that the WASP operation was a routine group endeavor.

 

IV

REQUIREMENTS

For the original ferrying group taken, for operational duties, the minimum requirements were fixed by the Air Transport Command, and included:

1. Age limit, to 35 inclusive

2. High school education

3. Commercial pilot license with 200 hp rating

4. Not less than 500 hours of logged and certified time

5. American citizenship

6. Cross Country flying experience

As stated above, 30 women were accepted under these requirements for the WAFS unit, two of whom were released before assignment to operations. At the start of the women pilot training program the requirements were set as follows for students:

1. Age 21 to 35 inclusive
2. High school education or equivalent

3. Minimum height -- 60 inches

4. 200 hours flying time

5. Medical examination by an Army flight surgeon
6. American citizenship
7. Personal interview with an authorized recruiting officer.

        It was known from the beginning that the requirement of 200 hours would not permit the then objective of 500 trained women pilots to be obtained, but the desire was to have the more experienced licensed women pilots in the earlier classes to help get the program off to a smooth start. The requirement as to needed flying hours, having the objectives in mind, was quickly and successively reduced to 100 hours, then to 75 hours, and finally to 35 hours, where it remained until the end of the program. In point of fact, some of the earlier trainees had more flying hours logged than many of the original ferrying group. They chose to take the training course first, in the belief that they would be better off in the end. Opportunity was thus also presented to follow experienced pilots who went to work without the training course, experienced pilots who took the training course, and younger, less experienced pilot material.

The 35 hour requirement was not for the purpose of getting experienced pilots. In all cases after the first two classes, training was ab initlo, i.e., as if the trainees had had no previous flying experience. This requirement was to act as a natural screening process. There were more than 25,000 young women who applied for pilot training and only a small portion of them could be accepted or even interviewed. By requiring 35 hours, all women unable or unwilling to meet this reasonable minimun would be immediately eliminated and those with 35 certified hours -- having shown interest and tenacity in obtaining such training -- would be more qualified for interviews and possible acceptance into the program.

During the initial stages of the program women were used to fly only the lighter types of planes. But it was contemplated at an early date that they would prove qualified on many types of planes, including heavy bombers. This consideration, plus the experience gained in the first few weeks of the program, caused a change upward in the requirements as to minimum height. The 60 inches was increased to 62 1/2 inches in April 1943 and in the summer of 1944 was raised to 64 inches.

The AAF limited its male flying cadets to the age group of 18 to 26 inclusive and experience was clearly to the effect that the best pilot material was to be found in this age group. The upper age limit for women pilots was never lowered below 35, but in selection of candidates few were taken over 26 years of age. On the other hand the lower age limit for women pilot trainees was reduced from 21 years to 18 1/2 in August 1943.

There were some outstanding pilots in the WASP program who were both in the upper age brackets and below 64 inches in height, but they were the exception to the rule. The finest material for pilot training, speaking generally, was to be found in the lower age brackets. The 1,102 WASP who were assigned to operational duties fell into the following age classifications:

21 or under 29 %
22 to 27 inclusive 57 %
28 to 32 inclusive 11 %
Over 32 3%

Standards set up for WASP did not vary in the main from standards set up for other flying personnel of AAF. Allowances were made for height and weight and to the regular history a complete menstrual history was added. The applicants for women pilot training were given the regular "64" Army physical examination. Women were allowed as standard 4 pounds less weight for their height than men, and from this standard tolerance was allowed upward and downward according to the experience of the Air Surgeon's office.

A study was made of 1383 WASP trainees by the medical office and as a result, toward the end of the program, the following table was suggested for women pilots as a substitute for what had been in effect:

Ht. in

18-20

21-25

25-30

30-35

inches Min Std Max Min Std Max Min Std Max Min Std Max
60 101 110 128 104 113 132 1066 115 134 106 118 138
61 103 112 131 106 115 134 108 117 137 108 120 140
62 105 114 133 108 117 137 109 119 139 109 122 142
63 108 117 137 109 119 139 111 121 141 111 124 145
64 110 120 140 111 121 141 114 124 145 114 127 148
65 113 123 144 115 125 146 117 128 149 117 131 153
66 116 126 147 118 129 151 121 123 154 121 135 158
67 119 130 152 122 133 155 125 136 159 125 139 162
68 123 135 156 126 137 160 128 140 163 128 143 167
69 126 138 161 129 141 165 132 144 168 132 147 172
70 130 142 166 133 145 169 135 148 173 135 151 176
71 134 146 170 136 149 174 139 152 177 139 155 181
72 137 150 175 141 154 180 144 157 183 144 159 186

 The maximum allowable weights are 16 2/3% above the standard weight.

Among the WASP, 15 were admitted less than 62 1/2 inches in height, but at least 60 inches in height. Ten of these graduated and five were eliminated for flying deficiency It was the opinion of civillian flying instructors and Army check pilots that a woman, if too slight in stature, usually had difficulty operating aircraft, because of difficulties with foot and manual controls. In any future program, unless change occurs in cockpit and controls to make size of pilot unimportant, women pilots should, in the opinion of the undersigned, be not less than 64 inches in height. The tallest trainee was 72 1/2 inches and she became a successful pilot. The suggested table shows a minimum allowable weight for 64 inches of 110 pounds.

In considering the height requirement, the following comparative dimensional data on 450 WASP and 2961 aviation cadets is instructive:

WASP (in inches) WASP (in inches)

MALE (in inches) MALE (in inches)

Mean

Range

Mean

Range

Foot length

9.57

8.9 - 10.9

10.5

9.8 - 11.3

Chest circumference

34.98

29.0 - 42.9

35.7

33.1 -  39.0

Anterin arm reach

31.80

28.3 - 35.4

35.2

32.7 - 37.8

Sitting height

34.10

30.7 - 37.4

36.4

34.5 - 38.5

Eye height

30.00

26.8 - 33.4

31.4

29.6 - 33.3

Buttock-knee length

22.60

19.7 - 26.7

23.6

22.0 - 25.2

Patella height

20.10

17.7 - 23.2

22.0

20.4 - 23.6

Calf circumference

13.78

11.0 - 16.4

14.1

12.8 - 15.6

Stature

64.90

58.0 - 72.0

69.2

65.4 - 73.1

Head circumference

21.73

20.4 - 22.9

22.4

21.5 - 23.4

Face length

4.50

3.78 - 5.3

4.8

4.5 - 5.2

Head length

7.30

6.65 - 8.0

7.8

7.4 - 8.2

Head breadth

5.80

5.27 - 6.3

6.0

5 7 - 64

Weight

128.6 lbs

96.00 - 175 lbs

153.1 lbs

128.5 - 184 0 lbs

 

It should be noted that the greatest difference is in leg length which should be taken into account in determining minimum overall height; therefore, according to the medical authority, there should be developed an applicable standard of minimum lineal length measurement to be included as a physical requirement in selection of women pilots.

The following tables for the 1944 trainees, 1066 in number, show that graduations decrease and severances for various reasons increase almost directly in proportion to age:

18 - 20 years

Eliminated flying deficiency

Resigned

Medical discharge

Graduated

 

Began training

20

3

2

68

 

93

22%

3%

2%

73%

 

21-25 years

Eliminated flying deficiency

Resigned

Medical discharge

Graduated

 

Began flight training

183

63

11

392

 

649

28%

10%

2%

60%

 

25-30 years

Eliminated flying deficiency

Resigned

Medical discharge

Graduated

31-35 years

Eliminated flying deficiency

Resigned

Medical discharge

Graduated

Began flight training

102

31

11

99

Began flight training

44

11

6

20

243

42%

12%

5%

41%

81

54%

14%

7%

25%

For the 1943 trainees, the results were somewhat better for the upper age groups (75% graduated between the ages of 21 and 30, and 48% over 30 graduated), but this is not as indicative as the 1944 table because of the more experienced pilots included in the earlier part of the program. The average age of all trainees was 24 at time of induction.

In any future women pilot program the upper age limit should be kept down to about 27 or 28 years for those to be assigned to regular flying duties.

 

V

CURRICULUM

From the start, the training of women pilots covered (I) military training including military courtesy and customs, Articles of War, safeguarding of military information, drill and ceremonies, Army orientation, organization, military correspondence, chemical warfare and personal affairs, (2) ground school phases of flight training, including mathematics, physics, maps and charts, navigation, principles of flight, engines and propellers, weather, code, instrument flying, communications, and physical and first aid training, and (3) flight training from primary through advanced, which placed the graduate in line to take up operational duties immediately in all lighter type planes and to handle the faster heavier types after the usual short period of transitional training given after assignment to such types of operational duties.

The time given to the various branches and phases of this overall training changed during the development of the women pilot ~ based on experience gained both within the training program and from results shown in operational duty.

At the start, the total program occupied 23 weeks from entry into training to graduation and assignment to a using agency of the Army Air Forces. During these 23 weeks the trainees had 115 hours of flying and 180 hours of ground school. At the end of the program the training period had been lengthened to 30 weeks, with 210 hours of flight and 393 hours of ground school, and a system of two phase flight training, i.e., primary and advanced, had been adopted with good results in place of the three phase system (primary, basic, and advanced) previously used. The two phase system of training was initiated at Sweetwater and subsequently, in view of its excellent results, was approved for more general use in the training of aviation cadets. As a matter of interest, Sweetwater was the only AAF school where all phases of training to point of graduation were conducted at a single base.

As the program developed, more tune was given to cross country flights than in the beginning. Speaking in general terms, the WASP trainees received about the same primary, basic, and advanced training as the flying cadets. On graduation they were qualified to ferry trainer type airplanes and thereafter to take up such transition to higher class of duty as the using agencies might determine, based on the individual qualities shown by the WASP.

 

VI

EQUIPMENT

No suitable base was available for women pilot training at the start of the program, the flying training program of the AAF being then at a high tempo. After checking various sites, the Municipal Airport at Houston, Texas was selected. As a substitute for barracks, several auto courts were taken over and transportation to and from the field was arranged by busses. The flying equipment was obtained from surplus or obsolete stock at various fields and consisted of civilian aircraft with rarely two planes of the same type, which presented a burdensome maintenance problem. In view of transition tune required for students on each type of plane, the program presented many difficulties during the first four months of training.

Early in 1943, decision was taken by the Flying Training Command to inactivate Avenger Field at Sweetwater, Texas, as a base for training cadets, and that field was made available for the women pilot training program. The first class entered at Avenger Field 21 February 1943, while part of the cadets were still there. By May 1943, the last class of cadets had graduated and the women trainees then at Houston were transferred to Sweetwater, which from then on until the termination of the program was the sole training base for women pilots.

The flying equipment at Avenger Field consisted of something over 200 airplanes of standard types, including PT-17's, PT-19's, BT-13's, BT-15's, AT-6's, AT-I7's, UC-78's, UC-43's, and UC-81's.

VII

OPERATION OF TRAINING BASE

From the beginning the operations both at Houston and at Sweetwater were of the Army contract type, used quite extensively in the whole cadet training program. A private contractor under this type of operation takes over the base, pays a certain rental to the Defense Plant Corporation, and for a fee handles the operation and maintenance of the plant and flying equipment, the employment of both ground and flying instructors, and the training of students. The same contractor handled the original base at Houston and the permanent base at Sweetwater.

The total cost of the training program per graduate his been estimated to be approximately $12,000, including payment to the contractor, salary and uniforms to the trainees, cost of military and civilian personnel assigned to the training program, depreciation and maintenance of equipment and all like items. Inasmuch as a part of the payment to the contractor found its way back to the Government through payments by the contractor as rental to the Defense Plant Corporation and in the form of taxes, the net cost to the Government was somewhat less than the figure stated above. It can be stated with assurance that the cost of training a WASP graduate, taking into account all factors, was no greater and probably, for various reasons, somewhat less than the cost of similar training in the case of cadets.

WASP were paid by Civil Service but administration was shared by Army Air Forces, civilian contractors, civilian instructors and Civil Service. Sharp lines of demarcation were difficult to secure and channels of authority were sometimes confusing. The lack of militarization of the WASP was felt almost continually in every way, and increasingly so during later stages of the program. Because of their highly specialized work and the fact that they were entrusted with flying valuable Government equipment, it was considered vital that WASP be treated in all illnesses by AAF flight surgeons, so that the flight surgeon would be in a position to know whether or not the individual WASP was physically qualified after illness to return to flying duty. Their civilian status presented difficulties even in this important matter but these difficulties were finally overcome. The serious cases of illness at Avenger Field, Sweetwater, were handled at the Bombardier Air Base hospital at Big Spring, Texas, and flying ambulance service was available.

At the Avenger Field women pilot training base the twenty bed hospital was classified as a dispensary. The three medical corps officers and eight medical department enlisted men were assisted by three civilian registered nurses employed by the civilian contractor. No military personnel lived at the base but they were attended at the dispensary during separate hours. Two ambulances were at the school with ship to tower to ambulance radio communication useful in off-field crashes.

 

VIII

PAY AND LIVING COSTS

The women pilots, being on Civil Service status, could not be exactly fitted into the scale of pay of Army Air Forces military personnel. Trainees were paid $150 per month and with regulation over-time established by the AAF, received actually $172.50 per month. They had to pay their own transportation to Sweetwater and their way home in case of severance from the program prior to graduation. While at Sweetwater they paid $1.65 per day for maintenance. All things brought to a comparable the basis, women pilot trainees received about the same compensation as the male flying cadet, except for insurance benefits.

After assignment to operational duties the women pilots received $250 per month which, with regulation overtime, brought the pay to $287.50 per month. While on their bases they paid $15.00 to $20.00 per month, on the average, for quarters and had the privilege of buying their meals in the Officers' Mess. Both trainees and graduates customarily received the regulation allowance of $6.00 per day when away from base on official duty. All things brought to a comparable basis, the pay of a WASP on operational duty was slightly less than that of a 2nd Lieutenant with flight pay There was no promotion or advancement in pay depending on length of service. The oldest WASP in point of service received the same pay as the youngest graduate.

Uniforms provided the women pilots after graduation cost the Government approximately $177.00 compared with the $250.00 uniform allowance for 2nd Lieutenants. Utility items such as flying clothing were also provided the WASP as in the case of all other flying personnel, which amounted to about $150.00 per WASP on operational duty. In general, to be uniformed properly and according to regulations, it was necessary for each WASP to put up approximately $100.00 out of her own pocket.

The trainees were provided coveralls and other functional clothing such as leather jackets, but had to provide their own uniforms, which consisted of khaki slacks and overseas cap, and white shirt.

 

IX

ORGANIZATION AND DISCIPLINE AT TRAINING BASE

Apart from the organization provided by the contractor, the AAF had the following personnel at Avenger Field: Commanding Officer. Executive Officer, Flight Surgeon and Asst. Night Surgeons, Engineering Officer, Finance Officer. Operations Officer. Quartermaster, Supply Officer, Maintenance, Intelligence, Public Relations, Physical Training, Transportation Officer and Weather Officer. The number of flying officers varied between twenty and forty depending upon the number of students enrolled.

The Avenger Field base was under the jurisdiction of the Central Flying Training Command and regular AAF inspections occurred from the headquarters of that command, the headquarters of the AAF Training Command and headquarters of the Army Air Forces in Washington.

The trainees lived in barracks, six to a bay. As a part of the women pilot program there were five women called "Establishment Officers" and later "Staff Advisors" stationed at Avenger Field, whose duties included acting as liaison officers between trainees and military personnel, recommending adoption of or changes in current regulations essential to the welfare, health, and discipline of trainees and assisting in enforcing these regulations. In addition, they acted in an advisory capacity to the trainees in their personal affairs when necessary, and helped expedite the satisfactory solutions of unprecedented basic problems of women Civil Service employees in pilot training under Air Forces administration.

Below these Establishment Officers were squadron and section officers selected from the trainees themselves on a rotation basis, their number dependent on size of enrollment at time of selection.

The trainees were required to follow as closely as possible the schedules established for male flying cadets at other AAF bases, not only for the purpose of determining if they were adapted to this daily routine grind, but also for the purpose of proper indoctrination against the possibility of later militarization and officers' commissions. Insofar as possible WASP trainees were treated as cadets and pilots.

On arrival at the training base, they were immunized against small pox, tetanus, and typhoid, and dental identification surveys and routine care were given. Notwithstanding that they had all passed their "64" physical examination before arrival, visual acuity tests were given again and enough abnormalities were revealed to justify the practice. Each class was addressed by the medical officers and given lectures on personal hygiene and health. Routine examinations presented no problem. Nurses were always present during any physical examination. Dentists from the Army Air Base hospital at Big Spring visited Avenger Field every four to six weeks for stays of from ten to twelve days. All reports were to the effect that the WASP were fastidious in matters dealing with hygiene and that there was no reason disclosed to set any different standards than for the males.

 

X

FORMULATION OF OVERALL WASP PROGRAM

Until July 1943, the training and the operating branches of the women pilot program were handled independently as referred to above. With other commands and air forces becoming using agencies for the women pilots, the need for centralized coordination of all phases of the program became apparent. The experimental features of the program could not be properly handled without control over assignments between commands, selection of types of flying duties to be performed, and control over health and welfare according to a centralized plan. Accordingly, on 5 August 1943, the women pilot trainees and the WAFS (as the women in the Ferry Command were called) were merged into one organization known as WASP--for Women Airforces Service Pilots.* The undersigned was appointed Special Assistant to the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Operations, Commitments and Requirements, with title of Director of Women Pilots. At about the same time, Mrs. Love, the chief squadron leader of the ferrying group of women pilots, was appointed as WASP Executive with the staff of the Ferrying Division of Air Transport Command as adviser on WASP matters relating to that command.

The duties of the Director of Women Pilots as stated in the directives were generally as follows, in all cases subject to the approval of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Operations, Commitments and Requirements and to all necessary coordination: to determine the most effective utilization of women pilots and in what capacities they should be used; to determine the number of women pilots to be trained to meet the needs of the using agencies; to determine the qualifications of women pilot trainees; to recruit women trainees; to determine training standards for women pilots; to allocate trained women pilots to using agencies; to formulate rules and regulations governing the conduct and welfare of women pilots; to make recommendations to the Air Surgeon relative to health and living conditions of women pilots; to formulate plans for the removal of women pilots from Civil Service status or for their militarization; to coordinate AAF functions, plans, and projects relative to women pilots; to maintain Iiaison with using agencies in order to inform them of policies and to keep informed as to all activities and problems in connection with the women pilot program; and to perform other functions directed by the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Operations, Commitments and Requirements.

It was only after creation of the WASP organization that uniforms were provided. Prior thereto the trainees had been issued coveralls and the women pilots in the Ferry Command either provided themselves with a uniform of their own choosing or were not uniformed.

Regulations were adopted and issued relating to WASP, the main features of which can be summarized as follows: All Women Airforce Service Pilots, including such administrative non-flying personnel as were needed in the organization, were to be designated WASP, all of whom were to be appointed in accordance with Civil Service Commission rules and regulations, with the mission to perform for the AAF such flying duties as "they are qualified for, thereby releasing male pilots for more essential service." To this end, they were authorized to fly military aircraft. Subsequent to 25 January 1943 WASP pilots could be appointed only through induction at the WASP training base, with approval of application for training by Headquarters of the Army Air Forces. All personnel actions, including appointments, transfers, and separations were to be processed by the Central Civilian Personnel Office at the station to which the WASP were assigned. The organization was to consist of the Director of Women Pilots at Headquarters of the Army Air Forces, and WASP personnel assigned to the various commands and stations of the AAF. In the exercise of her responsibilities and functions, the Director of Women Pilots was authorized to consult directly with the commanding generals of the several commands and air forces or their appropriate officers. The WASP were to be utilized for such duties for which they were deemed qualified by commanding officers and could be assigned to administrative duties incident to flight operations provided such other duties would not prohibit or limit their utilization as active pilots. Assignment to various commands of WASP graduates was to be established in coordination with the several commands and air forces. Reassignments as between commands and air forces were to be coordinated with Headquarters, AAF, through the Director of Women Pilots, but transfers from one station to another within a command could be effected in accordance with standard procedures for civilian personnel without such headquarters coordination. WASP pilots were permitted to initiate requests for transfers to other types of flying, provided they had qualified for a period of six months in their previous assignment; such requests were to be submitted through channels to the Director of Women Pilots, and commanding officers of the various commands and air forces were to indicate the availability of such WASP for other duties. Each command or air force using WASP was permitted to appoint a WASP to be designated staff executive; who would act as adviser on WASP matters affecting that particular command or air force. Commanding officers at stations where WASP were on duty could arrange for a WASP squadron, organized with a squadron leader to be designated by the commanding officer from a list of qualified WASP maintained by the Director of Women Pilots for the purpose; also for a WASP squadron executive to be designated by the WASP squadron leader as her principal assistant; also a WASP squadron executive for operations, also to be designated by the WASP squadron leader and to be responsible for assignment of WASP to missions as required by station operations, for dissemination to WASP of information regarding safety regulations, technical orders and essential instructions, and compliance therewith, for maintenance of operations records and statistics; also a WASP squadron executive for administration and supply; and such other officers as the WASP squadron leader, with the approval of the commanding officer, might designate. WASP were not to be utilized outside the continental limits of the United States and Canada without special approval of the Commanding General, AAE Correspondence between the Director of Women Pilots and WASP staff executives and WASP squadron leaders was authorized but to be routed through command channels. The WASP staff advisers were to assist and advise commanding officers on all non-operational activities of WASP such as welfare, conduct, housing and dress, and could be either on flying or non-flying status. The inadequacy or incapacity of a WASP to perform required flying duty was to be submitted to a Flying Evaluation Board as provided by AAF Regulation 60-2 and the findings of the flying Evaluation Board were to be reported to the Director of Women Pilots in order to provide opportunity for transfer or reassignment to further training or other duties. In the case of disciplinary action or the discharge of a WASP Civil Service Rule XII and WD CPR 60 were to be complied with; and also, before initiating procedure for discharge of a WASP, the facts were to be investigated by a board appointed by the commanding officer of the station involved, to include the flying safety officer whenever an infraction of flying regulations was concerned, the WASP squadron leader for the station, and, if assigned to the station concerned, the WASP staff adviser. The findings and recommendations of the board were to be submitted to the commanding officer, who took the final decision. Before initiating any disciplinary action for infraction of a flying regulation, similar procedure was provided. In any disciplinary action not involving discharge or infraction of flying regulations the board had to consist of at least two officers of the station and the WASP squadron leader.

Before the end of the program, WASP staff executives had been appointed not only by the Ferrying Division of Air Transport Command, but by Training Command, Eastern Central and Western flying Training Commands, and the Second Air Force.

The administrative and clerical organization in the office of the Director of Women Pilots and a part time traveling representative of the Director to interview applicants for flying training completed the organization.

The WASP program, for the reason that it dealt with something new and experimental in the Army Air Forces, namely women pilots, had many of the characteristics of a special project. However, the administration of the WASP operations necessarily had to conform to the pattern of decentralized administration and control in effect in the Army Air Forces. The WASP overall program was under direct control of AAF Headquarters and administered through regular command channels. Trainees were under the direct supervision of the Training Command. Graduate WASP were under the direct supervision of the Air Force or command to which they were assigned. The Director of Women Pilots worked through channels and in liaison with each of these commands and air forces except on special occasions when direct, unchanneled contact was warranted and permitted. More effective results could have been obtained so far as the women pilot program was concerned if it had been classified as a special project but perhaps there would have been counterbalancing losses in other ways. With the WASP on civilian status, full authority could not always be imposed and there were cases of breaking of channels. Militarization would have been the solution for this occasional problem.

Besides ferrying, the first duty to be undertaken by WASP was towing of targets. A group of 25 was sent to Camp Davis in July 1943 for this experiment, which was successful. Later at this same field and subsequently at other fields, the performance of searchlight and tracking missions was undertaken with like success. It was determined in October 1943 to try out a group of WASP in the Fortress (B-17) and another group in the B-26. These groups passed their transition training as successfully as male pilots in like work and from then until the end of the program carried out operating missions in these types of planes regularly without either fatal or serious accident. Other groups of WASP undertook operational duties in the B-25 bomber with gratifying results. During this period the girls in ferrying work were in part transferred to other commands and in part were put on duty ferrying the fighter type planes. At the conclusion of the WASP program the number of WASP on operational duty and flying status with the various air forces and commands were as follows:

Headquarters AAF

Training Command

Air Transport Command

FirstAirForce

Second Air Force

FourthAirForce

WeatherVVing

Proving Ground

Air Technical Service

TroopCarrier

 

1

620

141

16

80

37

11

6

3

1

916

The duties performed by these WASP embraced the following:

Ferrying, target towing, tracking and searchlight missions, simulated strafing, smoke laying, and other chemical missions, radio control flying, basic and instrument instruction, engineering test flying, administrative and utility flying. No attempt was made generally to qualify WASP on 4-motored equipment but whenever this was done results were approximately as successful as in the case of male pilots. At the conclusion of the program more than 50% of all WASP who had been on operational duties six months or longer were rated Class 3 or above.

 

XI

SEVERANCES DURING TRAINING

Eighteen hundred and thirty (1,830) women reported to Sweetwater for training. Five hundred and fifty-two (552) of these were eliminated during training for flying reasons, constituting 30.7% of the total. One thousand seventy-four (1,074) were graduated, constituting 58.7% of the total. The number that resigned were 152 or 8% of the total. The number eliminated for medical reasons were 27 or 1.4% of the total. The number eliminated for disciplinary reasons were 14 or 0.8% of the total.

The percentage of elimination among male flying cadets in primary, basic, and advanced training during the same period that the WASP training program was in operation was approximately 35.6%. It will be noted that the rate of elimination among WASP trainees exclusive of voluntary resignations was approximately 33%. If those who had voluntarily resigned are treated as if they had never entered the course of training, the rate of elimination among WASP trainees then becomes 35.9%, or almost the same as that among male cadets. Or, if it is considered that such 8% entered the course and if they had not resigned would have had the same percentage of elimination as the others; viz. 33%, the overall elimination then becomes 35.5% to compare with 35.6% among the cadets. Taking these factors into account, it is the opinion of the writer that the elimination rates among WASP trainees and male flying cadets closely paralleled each other.

The main reasons for voluntary resignations among trainees, listed in order of importance, were fear of flying, loss of desire, loss of confidence, physical unfitness, or changed situation at home requiring the presence of the trainee.

The principal reasons for medical eliminations were emotional instability and hysteria, airsickness, pregnancy among married WASP, fear of flying, asthma, claustrophobia, fatigue.

 

XII

SEVERANCES DURING OPERATIONS

Of the 1,074 WASP who graduated and who were assigned to operational duties, and the additional 28 original WAFS who entered upon operational duties without taking the training course, making a total assigned to operations of 1,102, 916 were still in service at the time the program was inactivated, on 20 December 1944. The record concerning these 1,102 is as follows:

150 resigned

9 disciplinary

27 killed

916 remaining on duty

1,102

13.62%

81%

2.45%

83.12%

100.00%

The high rate of resignation is directly attributable to the lack of militarization. Any WASP could resign at any time. The civilian status of the program thus resulted in decreased efficiency and increased the unit costs through such resignations. In a few cases when the circumstances seemed to warrant, as in the case of a growing fear of flying or some phase thereof, resignation was permitted instead of forced severance. There was nothing available for use like the honorable and dishonorable discharge, and discharge neither with nor without honor used in the Army

There was not the same disciplinary control over the WASP after graduation as there was during training. while there were broad overall regulations, the application thereof to a particular case depended largely upon the attitude of the command or air force involved. Consequently there could not be complete uniformity. No WASP was severed from the program for cause without a hearing before a board. In some cases that involved precedent or broad policy the Director of Women Pilots consulted several boards and experienced AAF officers before action for severance was initiated.

XIII

HOURS FLOWN

Notwithstanding the termination of the WASP program when many WASP had been on operational duty for only a few weeks, the WASP as a whole put in more hours in operational duties than they did in training. They paid their way, so far as the program was concerned, by flying in the aggregate approximately 60 million miles on operational duties, or about 2,500 times around the earth at the equator. The WASP averaged 33 hours of flying per month subsequent to assignment to operations. The monthly average varied as to commands and air forces as follows:

Training Command (operations)

Air Transport Command

First, Second, Third and Fourth Air Forces

41.5 hours

28.2 hours

35.5 hours.

         

      The average could also be broken down into types of service, as follows:

      Target towing

      Ferrying

      Operational and Administrative

       

      36.2 hours

      28.2 hours

      44.3 hours

       

The ferry work was done practically altogether by daylight. Most of the other operational activities were done by day and night. WASP were fully utilized on operational duties within 8 months from the time they started training.

 

XIV

ACCIDENTS

During the life of the WASP program there were 402 airplane accidents. Thirty-five (35) of these, or 9% of the total, were fatal accidents. Among AAF male flyers during the same period 11% of all accidents were fatal accidents. WASP fatalities numbered 38, including one girl who was killed while riding as a passenger in a plane accident not attributable to WASP personnel or activities.

Fatal accident rates compare very favorably with corresponding rates for men. For the entire program the fatal accident rate for WASP was .060 per 1000 hours of flying, or only one fatal accident for every 16,667 hours flown. This compares with a fatal accident rate for men during 1943 and 1944 of .062 per 1000 hours.

In the WASP training program up to the point of graduation, there were 9 fatal accidents resulting in 11 fatalities to WASP personnel and 3 fatalities to instructors. This represents a fatal accident rate of .032 per 1000 hours and a fatality rate, including instructors, of .049 per 1000 hours of flying. During the same period the fatal accident rate among male aviation cadets was .034 per 1000 hours and the fatality rate, including instructors, was .045 per 1000 hours.

Twenty-three (23) of the 26 fatal accidents among WASP, other than in primary, basic, and advanced training, were among the graduates of the training program and 3 were among the original WAFS who entered upon operational duties without going through such training. The fatal accident rate among the graduates was .081 per 1000 hours, or approximately one death for every 12,000 hours flown while the fatal accident rate among the original WAFS was .210 per 1000 hours or about one death for every 5,000 hours flown. For the graduates and the original WAFS combined, the fatal accident rate was .088 per 1000 hours, and since no more than one death occurred in any fatal accident, the fatality rate was the same. Among AAF male pilots in domestic operations subsequent to primary, basic, and advanced trainings the fatal accident rate during the same period was identical, at .088 per 1000 hours, but the fatality rate was substantially higher, boosted by a number of multiple death accidents in very heavy, heavy, and medium bombers.

The fatality rate was highest among WASP in the Ferrying Division of Air Transport Command, where it was .135 per 1000 hours, divided into .120 per 1000 hours for the graduates of the training program and .210 for the Original WAFS. The fatality rate for WASP in operations outside of the Ferrying Division was .068 per 1000 hours. There was not a single fatality among WASP while flying the B-26's and Fortresses, although WASP flew approximately 30,000 hours in these multi-engined bombers, and the accident rate was only .237 per 1000 hours as compared with an accident rate among male pilots in similar work of .300 per 1000 hours.

The women who lost their lives in training are listed below:

Jane Champlin

Maijorie Davis

Maijorie D. Edwards

Elizabeth Erickson

Mary H. Howson

Kathryn B. Lawrence

Margaret S. Oldenburg

Gleanna Roberts

Margaret J. Seip

Helen I. Severson

Betty P Stine

 

The women who lost their lives among the WAFS and graduates of the training program are listed below:

Susan P Clarke

Katherine Dussaq

Cornelia C. Fort

Frances F Grimes

Edith C. Keene

Mary P Hartson

Hazel Y Lee

Paula R. Loop

Alice E. Lovejoy

Lea 0. McDonald

Peggy Martin

Virginia C. Moffat

Marie Michel

Beverly J. Moses

Dorothy M. Nichols

Jeanne Norbeek

Mabel V Rawlinson

Bettie M. Scott

Dorothy F. Scott

Marie E. Sharon

Evelyn G. Sharp

Marian Toevs

Gertrude Tompkins

Mary E. Trebing

Mary L. Webster

Bonnie I. Welz

Betty L. T. Wood

 

One of the WASP lost her life while riding as a passenger but is included above because her trip was in line of duty. Three others lost their lives while acting as copilots with male pilots. Four of the 11who were killed while in training were accompanied by instructors at the time.

For the entire WASP program, the all-accident rate, as distinguished from the fatal accident and fatality rates, was .693 per 1000 hours. This is slightly above the male all-accident rate for the same period, which was .540.

Accident hazards, however, are somewhat higher in the early and expanding stages of any flying program. The expanding phase in the WASP training program, including transition and operational flying training, took place in late 1943, and all but the last few months of the program can be classed as experimental and development months. In the case of male pilots, the development and rapid growth stages of the training took place in 1942. The WASP all-accident rate of .693 per 1000 hours is slightly lower than the .707 per 1000 hour rate for men in 1942 in all domestic flying.

The WASP all-accident rate in operations decreased from .885 per 1000 hours in 1943 to .674 per 1000 hours in 1944.

The all-accident rate in the training program was .674 per 1000 hours. The accident rate in training did not decrease in 1944, primarily because the field at Sweetwater was under construction, with approximately 25% of the runways out of service at all times. Landing and taxiing strips were shown for night flying by oil pots. Oftentimes, landings had to be made in heavy crosswinds to avoid useless runways. While this physical situation contributed to the minor and non-fatal accident rate, it was not responsible for any deaths.

Comparatively few of the non-fatal accidents resulted in injury to the pilot, and in only seven cases were the injuries more than minor.

XV

VALUE OF ARMY AIR FORCES TRAINING

The woman pilot program probably could not have started as soon as it did were it not for the fact that a group of American women pilots had already proved their value in England and another group (who were known as WAFS), because of their experience, ability, and flying hours (more than 500 in all cases and an average of approximately 1,100) were employed directly by the Air Transport Command for ferrying of trainer type planes. This group of WAFS assigned directly to operational duties therefore deserves special mention. They are listed below, and the 16 marked with an asterisk (*) (representing 57% of the original 28 assigned to operations and 53.3% of the original 30 employed) are the ones who continued in service to time of inactivation of the WASP Three of the ones not marked with an asterisk are included in the list of the women pilots who lost their lives.

*Nancy E. Batson

Bernice L. Batten

*Kathryn B. Bernheim

*Delphine Bohn

Phyllis Burchtield

*Helen M. Clark

Barbara Towne Dixon

*Barbara Donahue

*Barbara J. Erickson

*Opal Ferguson

Cornelia Fort

Dorothy J. Fulton

*Betty H. Gillies

*Theresa D. James

 

*Nancy H. Love

*Lenora J. McElroy

*Helen E. McGilvery

Florine Miller

*Esther L. Nelson

Barbara E. Poole

Esther M. Ratlifelde

Anne H. Rhonie

*Helen Richards

*Adela R. Scharr

Dorothy E Scott

Evelyn Sharp

Katherine R. Thompson

*Gertrude Meserve Tubbs

 

                       

It would have been no surprise if this group of WAFS had shown the best fatality, accident, and severance rates. That they did not is no discredit to them, but is striking evidence of the validity and effectiveness of the AAF flying training programs for a large portion of the graduates had at time of assignment to operational duty less than 300 hours of flying.

For what it may be worth in such an analytical study, there were several long experienced pilots who went through the training program. Fifty-four (54) graduates had more than 500 hours at time of assignment to operational duty. For this group of graduates the rates of fatalities and total accidents, compared with the same rates among the original WAFS, were as follows:

 

Fatalities per 1000 hours

Accidents per 1000 hours

54WASPGrads.

.041

.533

WAFS

.210

.694

All indications are that full value was obtained from this preliminary training to fly the Army way and that in any future program all women pilots should go through the regular AAF flying training program before assignment to operational duties. Apart from standardization of flying practice and techniques, the regimentation and discipline the trainees received at Sweetwater also had considerable value in subsequent operations.

 

XVI

MEDICAL FEATURES

The medical aspects of the WASP program were given close attention as a part of the experimental features of the program. The primary purpose was to get findings and experience peculiar to women pilots to evaluate medically their adaptability to flying. Prior to the program there had been no real research in this field. References to women in aviation in the United States were mostly limited to impressions, and notes of participation in races, contests, and the like, but these contained much speculative discourse regarding attributes of women pilots as physically and psychologically unsuited to fly Army aircraft. The results of the medical research in connection with the WASP should be valuable in the future utilization of women in flying, both in military and civilian capacities, and represents the most complete collection of information concerning this new phase of aviation medicine in the United States. The statements made herein are based on a review of the experience of AAF surgeons, commanding officers, flying safety officers, and other interested personnel at fields where WASP were trained or stationed, and on a review of historical reports, medical records, and other pertinent data gathered together by the Air Surgeon's office. Because the training school was operated along military lines with close controls, the greatest opportunity for coordinated research was to be found there, where three medical corps officers and eight medical department enlisted men were stationed. Many preconceptions were proved wrong.

It was the generally held belief at the start of the program that women were handicapped due to the menses and would be off duty a few days each month, with the regularity of their services consequently undependable. The conclusion of the medical reports is that this belief found no support in the experience of the WASP and that menstruation in properly selected women is not a handicap to flying or dependable performance of duty. The six women instructors at Sweetwater lost less time from flying than the male instructors at the same field. The loss of time from this cause at Avenger Field averaged only about half a day a month. On operational duty the loss of time from this cause was reported as negligible and in no degree an interference with the job. An analysis Of 1l fatal and 112 major nonfatal accidents in training failed to disclose any demonstrable contributing menstrual factor. Reports were obtained regularly from all trainees and a series of observations were conducted in a group of 430 cases. To determine effect of menses on flying, recordings were made of concentration, coordination, reaction, and tenseness. In 81% of the cases there was no recorded change and in 19% a slightly noticeable lowering in certain respects. These investigations were carried through stages of training and checked with records on the flight line. There were practically no cases where trainees felt that menses interfered with their ability to carry on in any phase or to meet any situation in the normal way. A substantial percentage who felt some physical or emotional let-down felt actually better after flying. This effect has been referred to in other aspects of aviation medicine as the "sedation of flying."

It is not the purpose of this report to allege that the same percentage of American women between the ages of 18 and 27 inclusive, could be drawn on for pilot material as in the case of men without findings contrary to the above. It is well known that a certain percentage of women suffer temporary partial disability from this cause. The WASP program was selective just as any other volunteer women pilot program would be, for the women with such reactions are not likely to choose flying as a pursuit. But no matter how extensive a women pilot program might ever be contemplated, this factor would not serve as a limitation on the obtaining of a sufficient number of trainees and graduates, for there are nearly 13,000,000 young women in the United States between the ages of 18 and 28, inclusive.

Notwithstanding that WASP were subjected to every extreme of weather and oftentimes to being pushed in training to catch up hours so that classes could be regularly begun and graduated, the cases of either operational or flying fatigue were outstandingly low. They were so far below expectations and so far below the rate of incidence among male pilots that attempt was made by some to rationalize this on the ground that the women were so desirous of flying and so determined to show that they were as good as the men that they refused to give in to or report fatigue. Lost time in operations for physical reasons for WASP never exceeded the same figure for all flying personnel. WASP in ferry work lost less time than their male colleagues in the same work. The opinion of the author of this report is that these low fatigue rates are close to accuracy and if they should be discounted at all, it should be only to compensate for the fact that the WASP were not as much a cross-section of women as the cadets were of the men. The fact is that women "can take it" and, while not as strong as men, can stand as much or more strain and discomfort.

The observations regarding stamina and endurance are similar to the above concerning fatigue. Many of the WASP flew as much as 70 hours per month, a large part of which was in night flying, with no complaints except they wanted to fly more. In the Air Transport Command, where actual flying time averaged between 20 and 30 hours per month, the surgeon of that command felt it was not necessary to restrict the women more than the men on the basis of reports submitted to him from station surgeons of the various ferrying groups. As stated in the overall "Medical Report" the majority seem to be of the opinion that the physical endurance of WASP is basically equal to that of male pilots in a similar capacity; that there have been minimal physical complaints due to overwork, fatigue, and stresses and strains of the service.

It has been the opinion of many that women lack the muscular strength to do all types of flying, which is based on the fact that women, height for height, are not as muscular as men. Great muscular strength is required seldom, even in our heaviest planes. WASP flew the Fortresses for more than 12,500 hours with no fatalities and with only three minor accidents. WASP flew the even larger B-29. It is unfortunate that this factor of strength could not be tested out on an even broader scale than it was, but every indication was that the WASP organization had plenty of pilots of size and strength to take on any of the piloting jobs that had to be done. It is not asserted that the average woman has as much strength as the average man, or that a 64 inch, 110 pound girl would be normally chosen to do the heaviest types of flying. There is even selection among the male pilots in this respect. What is asserted is that, not only is muscular strength becoming less and less of a factor in connection with the piloting of our planes, but that selected women in large numbers are available who have sufficient size and strength for these tasks.

Early in the training program, it was not uncommon to have the trainees arise for ground school at 0800 after flying until 0400 in the morning. On the advice of the medical officer a rule was adopted that eight hours should intervene for sleep between ground school and flying activities. Also the rule was adopted, after experimentation, that trainees should not fly for periods of more than three hours at a time in primary training, three hours at a time in instrument training and four hours in other phases.

There was no tendency in operations to overwork the more seasoned WASP. The flying time of the members of the original ferrying group averaged less per month than for the WASP as a whole. The WASP who entered training at later periods in the program had fewer months remaining in which to build up air hours. Nevertheless, contributed to by the fact that several of this original group had part time administration duties as the program progressed, the 50 women pilots who had the most certified flying time during the entire program all started in the training part of the program. Each of 150 of the WASP put in more than 700 hours flying time.

It was kept in mind from the beginning that, depending on the length of the war and the peak of drain on the man power, WASP might eventually be used in non-combat flying operations abroad. There seemed no useful overall purpose to be served however in initiating such foreign service for WASP so long as the total number of WASP was only about 1000, and there were still male pilots in substantial numbers doing domestic flying duties that could be released by WASP in augmented numbers. Consequently until the end of the women's pilot program the work of the WASP was limited by order of the Commanding General to the continental limits of the United States and Canada. Many of the WASP were qualified to fly the ocean and many were ambitious to do so.

Most of the trainees adjusted themselves easily and quickly to the discipline and crowded barracks life.

Observations at Avenger Field failed to disclose any deficiencies relative to night vision, although no regular studies in this were conducted. There was usually mild apprehension before the first night solo flight, but no noticeable cases of disorientation. There was no increased accident rate during night flying, indeed the night accident rate was remarkably low according to the Office of Flying Safety. There were no eliminations or resignations directly attributable to night flying and after the first experience trainees went ahead confidently.

Parachutes were manageable but the weight of the seat packs was excessive for the smaller WASP. Several descended by parachute with no harm aside from some generalized temporary soreness. There was no evidence of breast irritation when the harness was fitted properly.

The problem of urinary relief in flight was managed, although never entirely successfully. The Aero-Medical Laboratory designed special flying suits for women for experimentation but the program ended before any general trial.

Two cases of clear-cut psychoneurosis were eliminated on arrival as trainees. Two others were eliminated after they had been on operational duty for about six months.

There were four recognized cases of air sickness among trainees but only two of these had to be eliminated because of persistence of symptoms. The 35 hour requirement for entrance served to screen out most applicants subject to this trouble.

Each new class of trainees brought a new wave of common respiratory diseases which continued for a week or ten days and was limited chiefly to the new arrivals. Trainees were repeatedly instructed in prophylactic measures aimed to ventilate the ears, and no serious cases of ear trouble were reported related to changes in atmospheric conditions. Ear trouble was mostly related to the swimming season.

There were no cases of venereal disease among inductees at the training base and none among trainees; none was discovered or reported among WASP on operational duty. The morality of the WASP was exceedingly high. The exceptions were remarkably few.

Altitude chamber tests were made with 386 WASP and the reactions compared with the reactions of 719 aviation cadets whose records were drawn from the files at random and included approximately the same period of time as those of the WASP The tolerance to anoxia is given in the table as the percentage of individuals that could not complete a six-minute period at 18,000 feet without supplementary oxygen. The figures in the table are the percentage frequency of the indicated reaction on a simulated flight to an altitude of 28,000 feet in the low pressure chamber.

WASP

Cadets
Tolerance to anoxia at 18,000 feet

Incidence of aero-otitis media

Incidence of aerO-sinusitis

Incidence of toothache at altitude

Gas distress at altitude sufficient to cause premature descent

Collapse or shock

3.6

24.4

1.6

0.5

0.0

0.0

0.8

18.8

1.2

1.0

0.0

0.0

Many of the WASP had to take the test using continuous flow rather than demand oxygen equipment due to the difficulty of fitting them with oxygen masks, and this must be taken into account in appraising the results.

Various standard aptitude tests in use in the Air Force were applied to the WASP. The reported results were that the women receiving pilot training had more formal education than aviation cadets, were superior to cadets in tests of reading comprehension, mathematics and other academic abilities, had a somewhat lower average than the aviation cadets in certain tests to predict pilot aptitude, and were definitely lower in tests dealing with the understanding of mechanical principles and two-handed coordination.

The predictive value of the pilot Stanine test was reported, through group experimentation, to be the same with women as in the case of men, and the Starine test had been adopted as standard procedure for applicants just before the acceptance of further trainees ceased.

With respect to psychological tests, the ARMA examination was given to 201 trainees, with 94 reported satisfactory, 69 questionable, and 38 unsatisfactory. In the first group 74.6% graduated, in the second group 56.5% graduated, and in the third group 42% graduated. The overall accurate screening effect of these various tests in selection of candidates for training proved out.

In closing this reference to medical aspects of the program not treated elsewhere in this report, the following is quoted from the overall medical report: "It is no longer a matter of speculation that graduate WASP were adapted physically, mentally, and psychologically to the type of flying assigned. Commanding Officers were almost unanimous in reporting that their (WASP) deactivation was keenly felt. Surgeons stated that they stood up well to their job; that the male personnel lost more time due to being grounded."

XVII

A SUGGESTION CONCERNING ANY FUTURE PROGRAM

In any future women pilot program there might be some advantages obtained by having the women pilots handle completely certain phases of operational duty, as for example, target towing. Should this be done, it should not include types of duty used for post-graduate training of male pilots. For example, some of the field reports state that ferrying of smaller planes is used for giving pilots experience and advancing them to the heavier planes -- consequently women pilots should not block this process by taking over and staying with this class of ferrying. The same seems true of navigational flights. The women in such classes of duty should also be there for transitional purposes.

XVIII

MILITARIZATION OF WASP

An act of Congress was necessary to place the WASP on military status as a part of the Army Air Forces. The program was started on a civilian basis in the belief that it should be tested first as to its potentialities before taking decision as to desirability of militarization. It was known that the women ferry pilots in England were employed by British Overseas Airways and were put under term contract, which carried $10,000 insurance benefits at no cost to the pilot and which not only assured service after transition training, but also contained stipulation dealing with controls and off-duty discipline. Such term contracts were not found possible here. The training program could be and was set up along military lines, even though the personnel was not militarized.

With comparatively few women pilots on operational duty until the fore part of 1943, the need for early militarization was not urgent, and in the beginning the writer recommended that the question of militarization be deferred until enough experience had been obtained to determine the usefulness of the women pilots to the AAF But, with graduates of Sweetwater being assigned in large numbers to operating stations, it became increasingly evident that the best results from the women pilot program could not be obtained unless the WASP could be governed, directed, and treated as a part of the Air Force personnel. They were flying the same as AAF flying officers on domestic assignments but were not subject to the same rules. They were living at AAF bases, dealing with Air Force equipment, eating in officers mess rooms, and associating with flying personnel, and yet were governed by an entirely different set of laws and regulations. They did not have any progressive schedule of advancement or pay.   They had no Government insurance. It was difficult to work out for them even hospitalization in case of sickness or accident, and to have them hospitalized elsewhere than in AAF hospitals under the supervision of flight surgeons would have prevented any sound approach to the experimental features of the program. They could resign at any time with or without just cause, which made weak any coordinated control in matters dealing with discipline, welfare, and health.

These and many similar considerations caused a decision to be reached early in 1944 to recommend to Congress militarization of the WASP A bill to that end was favorably reported out by the Military Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives. In its report on the Military Establishment Appropriations Bill, the Committee on Appropriations referred to its sub-committee's belief that WASP should be militarized. Notwithstanding this, the bill failed to pass. It is felt that its failure to pass was not due so much to opposition to militarization of the WASP as to a situation that had come to focus at that time dealing with civilian male flying instructors who were losing their jobs due to a cutback in the Army Flying Training Program, and also pilots or students who were a part of the War Training Service instructor program.

A report was published by the House Committee on Civil Service (Ramspeck Committee), dealing with the women pilots and the male instructors and WTS trainees, which recommended that no more WASP be accepted for training, and in many ways supported a position against militarization of WASP, although it made no specific recommendation in this respect.

The Army Air Forces, in the absence of WASP militarization and in view of this specific recommendation of the Ramspeck Committee, terminated all further acceptance of WASP trainees, which automatically brought the training program to an end in December 1944. This termination of the training program would have meant the end of the whole WASP program m due course, for an organization that has no way to offset attrition through deaths, resignations, and other severances, becomes a shrinking organization. Such a termination would have resulted in time even if the situation with respect to the war, male flying training program, and available pilot material had not changed so rapidly as to make the women pilot program no longer needed.

The failure of militazation may not have shortened the life of the women pilot program, for the situation with respect to available pilots rapidly changed soon thereafter, but it left the WASP on deactivation without any rights or veterans benefits; it left them without reserve status that might otherwise have been possible, and even desirable from some angles; it left the next of kin of those who died in the service without any insurance, and even without the right to display the gold star.

 

XIX

INACTIVATION OF THE WASP

The European war developments were such by the late spring of 1944 as to have their repercussions on the women pilot program. Early in 1944 plans were seriously considered for the opening of another school for the training of women pilots and the building up of the force to about 2,000. It was contemplated that much of the domestic flying, other than that useful in speeding male pilots on their way to overseas duty, might be taken over by WASP. But with the fortunate change for the better in the foreign situation, the whole flying cadet program was cut back, many who had been selected for flying training were transferred to other types of training, and many male pilots who had been serving as instructors in contract schools were released. The objective of the training program had naturally been to train pilots to meet all needs with adequate margin. Also, pilots who had completed their tours of duty abroad were being returned home and made available for domestic assignments. The result of all this was that WASP would be the first to be affected, and by the late summer of 1944 were fast moving into the category of surplus pilot material. While a few hundred pilots, more or less, posed no great problem, it seemed that all WASP should either stay or, to avoid preference as between commands or individual WASP, go out of the service altogether. An inspection trip which the Director of Women Pilots took in the late summer of 1944 to more than 50 bases where WASP were employed, and discussions with commanding officers, convinced her of the correctness of the view of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Operations, Commitments and Requirements, who had recommended that the WASP be inactivated. She therefore concurred in the recommendation.

Adequate notice was provided so that not only the WASP could have time to adjust themselves, but also so commands and air forces who were using WASP regularly and, in some instances in preference to men, such as in target towing and pursuit ferrying, could make suitable plans for male pilot personnel.

The order for inactivation was issued on 3 October 1944; inactivation occurred on 20 December 1944. The Commanding General of the AAF stated:

      "The WASP became part of the Air Forces because we had to explore the nation's total manpower resources and in order to release male pilots for other duties. Their very successful record of accomplishment has proved that in any future total effort the nation can count on thousands of its young women to fly any of its aircraft. You have freed male pilots for other work, but now the war situation has changed and the time has come when your volunteered services are no longer needed. The situation is that, if you continue in service, you will be replacing instead of releasing our young men. I know that the WASP wouldn't want that. So, I have directed that the WASP program be inactivated and all WASP be released on 20 December 1944. I want you to know that I appreciate your war service and that the AAF will miss you. I also know that you will join us in being thankful that our combat losses have proved to be much lower than anticipated, even though it means inactivation of the WASP"

The WASP in good standing at the end of the program were issued certificates of honorable service, signed by the Commanding General of the AAF and the Director of Women Pilots.

Arrangements were made with the Civil Aeronautics Administration to recognize military flying experience of WASP in good standing in the issuance of commercial pilots' licenses and horsepower ratings.

Since inactivation of the program, assistance has been given by the office of the Director of Women Pilots to getting WASP flying employment in civilian life. A comparatively few have succeeded in this respect. Many others are doing ground work with the AAF and with airplane manufacturers and airlines. Some are 5till searching for employment along lines for which their WASP training has especially equipped them.

The WASP performed creditably for the Army Air Forces and the Director of Women Pilots has pride in the results.

 

XX

LIST OF WASP IN GOOD STANDING

Concurrently with the filing of this report, the undersigned is also filing for the records of the War Department a list of all WASP who ended the program in good standing, together with the number of hours flown by them, including hours flown in training, and their length of service, which also includes time spent in training. These WASP plus the ones listed above in this report as killed during training or operational service, are the ones who would have boen entitled to Army veterans' benefits, if WASP had been militarized.

 

XXI

This report would be incomplete without a tribute to the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces, whose vision and understanding made the women pilot program possible. Second only to General Arnold, thanks must be expressed to the former Deputy Commander, AAF and Chief of Air Staff, Lieutenant General Barney M. Giles, and the Commanding General of the AAF Training Command, Lieutenant General Barton K. Yount, who from the first never wavered in their enthusiastic support of the program and of the WASP. Special appreciation must also be expressed to Major General R. W. Harper for his help and advice to the Director of Women Pilots; to Brigadier General L. W. Miller for his assistance in problems dealing with financial requirements and budgets; to Major General David N. W. Grant and Brigadier General Charles R. Glenn for their guidance and aid in the medical features of the program; and to the commanding generals of the various air forces and commands who in some cases were unreceptive to the use of WASP in the beginning, but in all cases were enthusiastic about them at the end, and helped in proving the experimental features of the program.

Throughout the entire program the Air Surgeon's Office was unfaltering in its help and advice in all matters pertaining to the health and welfare of the WASP and in determining their versatility and aptitude.

A word of appreciation should also be included for the WASP who were not on flying status, particularly Mrs. Ethel A. Sheehy who, a pilot of many years' standing, served first as recruiting officer and then as field assistant to the Director of Women Pilots; also Mrs. Leni L. Deaton and the other Establishment Officers (subsequently called Staff Advisers).

 

XXII

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The conclusions and recommendations set forth in the letter transmitting this report are repeated here as follows:

 

CONCLUSIONS

1. Women can meet the standard WD-AGO Form 64 physical examination for flying, and those meeting the proper height and weight requirements can be trained approximately as quickly and as economically as men m the same age group, to fly all types of planes safely, efficiently, and regularly

2. The best women pilot material is in the lower age brackets, down to 18 years.

3. It follows from conclusion I above that women can effectively release male pilots for other duties, and they have done so with the WASP program.

4. Physiology peculiar to women is not a handicap to flying or dependable performance of duty in a properly selected group.

5. The psychological, aptitude, and other tests used in the case of male pilots have approximately the same usefulness in the case of women pilots.

6. The flying safety record of women pilots approximates that of male pilots in the same type of work, whether training or operational. The elimination rate for women in training as pilots is aproximately the same as for the flying cadets in the same age groups,

7. Women pilots have as much stamina and endurance and are no more subject to operational or flying fatigue than male pilots doing similar work. Women pilots can safely fly as many hours per month as male pilots.

8. Even limiting the selection of women pilots to the age and height groups named above, and also discounting for all factors incident to the fact that the WASP program was comparatively small and therefore somewhat more selective than even the aviation cadet program, an effective women's airforce of many scores of thousands of good dependable pilots could be built up in the case of need from the nearly 13,000,000 young women of our country between the ages of 18 and 28, about 6,000,000 of whom are single.

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Any future women pilot program should be militarized from the beginning.

2. For general economy and efficiency the upper age limit should be 27 or 28 years for women to be trained as pilots for subsequent operational flying duties.

3. All pilots in any future program should pass through a standard training course before being assigned to operational flying duty

4. The minimum height for women accepted for service as pilots with the Army Air Forces, with the present types of planes in use, should be 64 inches, with a minimum weight of 110 pounds. Above these limits the weight allowance in relationship to height should be the same as for men, less about 7 pounds.

5. If at any time in the future, the War Department takes a favorable position with respect to legislation to grant veterans' rights to various civilian organizations which have served with the Armed Forces, all WASP who completed the program in good standing should be included, and the next of kin of WASP who died in line of duty should receive compensation comparable to that which would have been received if the WASP had been on military status with insurance privileges and benefits.

                  JACQUELIINE COCHRAN

                  Director of Women Pilots

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