The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) were volunteers who learned to fly during World War II to supplement the US military, which was suffering from a shortage of pilots.
A few more than 1,100 young women, all civilian volunteers, flew almost every type of military aircraft — including the B-26 and B-29 bombers — as part of the WASP program. They ferried new planes long distances from factories to military bases and departure points across the country. They tested newly overhauled planes. And they towed targets to give ground and air gunners training shooting — with live ammunition. The WASP expected to become part of the military during their service. Instead, the program was canceled after just two years.
They weren't granted military status until the 1970s. And now, 65 years after their service, they will receive the highest civilian honor given by the U.S. Congress. Last July, President Obama signed a bill awarding the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal. The ceremony will take place on Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Fewer than 300 WASPs are still alive to receive the honor today. Read the story of the program and a few of the pilots at NPR. Link -via Digg
(image credit: Texas Woman's University)