During World War II, just as now, the various military branches were short of men to serve in the military. With thousands of new aircraft rolling off of the assembly lines like the one at Willow Run Airport in Detroit, crews to deliver these aircraft to bases overseas simply were not available. Yesterday on Veterans day many of these women who served at Mather AFB in San Jose, CA were honored for their service to our country during the Second World War. Of the over 1,000 women who served in the Women's Air Service Pilots only about 300 are alive today.
These women wore uniforms, ferried more than 12,000 aircraft during the war, and flight testing aircraft after they were repaired freeing the male pilots to continue flying their missions over the war zone. As for accident rates, women fared slightly better than males in the home front flying. Unfortunately for these women enough men were finally available in 1944 to take on these duties and the careers of these women pilots, the first to fly military aircraft, came to an ignominious end. Despite their love of flying and their associated skills they returned home to continue their lives as wives and homemakers. In honor of these women and their service Congress has authorized the minting of the Congressional Gold Medal which will be awarded to these women who will be invited to Washington, DC for an award ceremony. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 Because of [Amelia Earhart], we had more women available to fly in the 1940's to help us get through World War II. And because of these women, women of my generation are able to look back and say, 'Hey, they did it. They even flew military airplanes, we can do it, too.' — Air Force Col. Eileen Collins, television interview 100 Years of Great women on ABC with Barbara Walters, 30 April 1999.