WOMEN IN AVIATION
In early 1943, as World War II raged on, several different plans to utilize female aviators to help perform pilot duties (everything except combat) were consolidated at Avenger Field in Sweetwater. Known as the WASP (Women’s Air Force Service Pilots), the program introduced something the country had never seen before – women flying military planes. The WASPs ferried aircraft, towed gunnery targets, transported equipment and personnel, and flight-tested aircraft that had been repaired.
Heritage travelers can learn all about this highly successful program at the National WASP World War II Museum, housed in Hangar 1 at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. Inside you’ll find photos of WASP trainees, life-sized cutouts of the leaders of the program, and information exploring the seventy-seven different types of aircraft flown by the WASPs (every aircraft in the Army's arsenal). Meet Fifinella, a female fremlin designed by Walt Disney for a proposed film from Roald Dahl's book "The Gremlins". During World War II, the WASP asked permission to use the image as their official mascot, and the Disney Company granted them the rights
The museum opened on May 28, 2005, the same day the first class of WASPs graduated 62 years later. Look for the WASP wings, designed especially for the WASPs with its center diamond symbolizing the shield of Athena, Greek goddess of war. At war’s end, all WASP records were classified and sealed, a policy that lasted for the next 35 years. The women who served finally received full military status in 1977 with legislation signed by President Jimmy Carter. In 2010 President Barrack Obama awarded the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal, providing final recognition to all the women in the program who took to the skies to serve.
The museum underwent an extensive renovation and expansion during 2020, and reopened in 2021 with a new Welcome Center and Gift shop, a temperature and humidity-controlled archival vault and suite, a fully stocked Catering room, state of the art Conference Room, and a beautiful Exhibit Gallery.
Watch the following videos to learn more about the World War II Air Fields in Texas, the WASPs, and the annual WASP Homecoming event held at Avenger Field. These videos were produced for inclusion in the World War II on the Texas Home Front mobile tour found in our Texas Time Travel mobile app. Learn more about the tour and the app on the World War II theme page at the following link: http://texastimetravel.com/travel-themes/main-world-war-ii
National WASP WWII Museum