In 1942, women became involved directly with the military when the U.S. Army organized the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron and the Women’s Flying Training Detachment. In 1943, the army consolidated those entities into the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) with an expanded mission. To release male military pilots for combat duty, the U.S. Army assigned WASP pilots to teach basic flight training to men, ferry planes within the United States, tow targets at gunnery practice sites, and conduct engineering flight tests. Training for WASP pilots occurred first at the Howard Hughes Airport in Houston and then at Avenger Field in Sweetwater in a less crowded sky. Approximately 25,000 women applied for service, of which 1,830 were accepted and 1,074 were graduated. The federal government did not recognize the WASPs as active-duty personnel during the period of their service (August 1943 to December 1944). In 1977, it adjusted the WASP status to include recognition, benefits, and honorable discharges, retroactive to the war period.
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