The women with silver wings The inspiring true story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II

Katherine Sharp Landdeck

Book - 2020

"The thrilling true story of the daring female aviators who helped the United States win World War II-only to be forgotten by the country they served When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Cornelia Fort was already in the air. At twenty-two, Fort had escaped Nashville's debutante scene for a fresh start as a flight instructor in Hawaii. She and her student were in the middle of their lesson when the bombs began to fall, and they barely made it back to ground that mor...ning. Still, when the U.S. Army Air Forces put out a call for women pilots to aid the war effort, Fort was one of the first to respond. She became one of just over 1,100 women from across the nation to make it through the Army's rigorous selection process and earn her silver wings. The brainchild of trailblazing pilots Nancy Love and Jacqueline Cochran, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) gave women like Fort a chance to serve their country-and to prove that women aviators were just as skilled as men. While not authorized to serve in combat, the WASP helped train male pilots for service abroad, and ferried bombers and pursuits across the country. Thirty-eight WASP would not survive the war. But even taking into account these tragic losses, Love and Cochran's social experiment seemed to be a resounding success-until, with the tides of war turning, Congress clipped the women's wings. The program was disbanded, the women sent home. But the bonds they'd forged never failed, and over the next few decades they came together to fight for recognition as the military veterans they were-and for their place in history"--

Saved in:

Bookmobile Spotlight Show me where

1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
Bookmobile Spotlight 940.544973/Landdeck Checked In
New York : Crown [2020]
First edition
Physical Description
435 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 353-415) and index.
Main Author
Katherine Sharp Landdeck (author)
  • Prologue
  • Airminded
  • The experiment begins
  • She will direct the women pilots
  • Outstanding woman flier of the world
  • Ferry pilots
  • The fabulous first
  • A chance to serve
  • Carrying on
  • The Army way
  • The hopefuls
  • Earning those wings
  • Avenger field
  • Expansion
  • The Women Airforce Service Pilots
  • England
  • Aerial dishwashers
  • A secret little deal
  • The lost last class
  • I regret to inform you
  • Simple justice
  • Disbandment
  • The end of the experiment
  • Finding their way
  • Moving on
  • Reunited
  • The flight begins
  • The year of the WASP
  • The final flight
  • Epilogue
  • Author's note
  • Acknowledgements
  • In memoriam
  • Notes.
Review by Booklist Review

In this breezy and fascinating history that touches on dramas large and small, members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) come alive. Drawing from extensive archives at Texas Woman's University (where she serves as an associate professor of history), as well as interviews gathered over the previous decades, Landdeck breathes new life into the WWII period. With a bitter battle over ambition and power at its center and all of the expectations for their gender constantly thrown in their way, the WASPs managed to accomplish serious feats of flying while aiding in the war effort. The fact that they were then forced to move to the sidelines and, in many cases, were rarely allowed to fly again after the war's end is as devastating today as it was then. With a gripping review of the battle to receive full recognition and benefits decades later for their war contributions, Landdeck moves beyond most histories. Readers interested in women in the military, and military, aviation, and women's history will find much to relish in this fresh, detailed account. WOMEN IN FOCUS

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Texas Woman's University history professor Landdeck debuts with an entertaining chronicle of the Women Airservice Pilots (WASP) program during WWII. Drawing on journals, letters, and oral histories, Landdeck notes that more than 1,000 women served in the program, which was led by professional pilots Nancy Love and Jackie Chochran. The WASPs, many of whom were flight instructors or members of civilian air clubs, ferried aircraft from factories to military bases and other embarkation points across the U.S., flight tested planes, and helped to train gunners, while battling sexism and bureaucratic red tape. Landdeck's profile subjects include Cornelia Fort, who volunteered after her civilian plane was strafed by Japanese fighters during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Teresa James, a former stunt flyer whose husband served as a bomber pilot in Europe. After the program's abrupt disbandment in 1944, these and other WASPs readapted to civilian life as they tangled with the government for postwar benefits. A generous selection of high-quality photographs and Landdeck's own experience as a licensed pilot enrich the narrative, capturing the joy of flying and the unique sense of freedom and independence these women would remember for the rest of their lives. This colorful history soars. (Apr.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

In the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor, millions of American men rushed to join the armed forces. As male pilots rushed to fill combat roles, Nancy Love and Jacqueline Cochran, both accomplished pilots, realized that female pilots could fill a need for the Army Air Forces. Thousands of women applied to join Cochran's Women's Flying Training Detachment with the hopes of then moving into Love's Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Service. These two units were later combined into the Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASP. Initially only allowed to ferry small, single-engined planes, the WASP pilots eventually flew some of the fastest and most complex planes used during the war, including the massive B-29 Superfortress. In her first book, Landdeck (history, Texas Woman's Univ.) tells the story of the significant contribution this group of women made to the war effort. Based on hundreds of oral histories with surviving WASP women, along with letters, diaries, and government documents, Landdeck explains the women's vital role ferrying planes, the group's disbandment, and their fight decades later to be rightfully recognized as veterans. VERDICT A must-read for those interested in women's and World War II history.--Chad E. Statler, Westlake Porter P.L., Westlake, OH

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A pilot and aviation historian makes her book debut with a deeply researched history of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, a group of more than 1,100 civilian fliers who, during World War II, made a valiant contribution to the military.In 1942, writes Landdeck (History/Texas Woman's Univ.), Eleanor Roosevelt called women pilots "a weapon waiting to be used," spurring the project of recruiting members for the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, led by a "coolheaded and personable" young woman, Nancy Love. Competing with Love for leadership was another acclaimed flier, ambitious, outspoken Jacqueline Cochran, who lobbied for her own position; as a compromise, she was put in charge of the Women's Flying Training Detachment, with her graduates moving on to Love's ferrying group. In 1943, the Army Air Force merged the groups into the WASP. Chosen from more than 25,000 skilled applicants who already had considerable flying hours, the members of the WASP underwent rigorous additional training to earn their coveted silver wings. Freeing male pilots to fly bombing missions, the WASP ferried more than 12,000 military planes and engaged in training exercises with gunners. Landdeck reveals racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia within both programs. When two women were reported to be dating, they were immediately dismissed. The media portrayed the women pilots with glowing articles in the first months of their service, but as the war wound down and the Allies were increasingly successful, male flight instructors in the War Training Service complained that the women were trying to steal their jobs. Cochran's efforts to bring the WASP into the military, ensuring them benefits and pay equal to male service members, inflamed the protests. Congressional bills failed, and the WASP was described as an "experiment" that was no longer needed. Drawing on memoirs, archives, and interviews with surviving WASP members, Landdeck creates palpable portraits of many women's experiences and their lives after the program was disbanded.A compelling history that brings forgotten heroes back in the spotlight. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.