Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life
Histories ›

Podcast: Fly Girls

WASP Image

The history of women in flight has a lot of firsts.

There’s Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Around the same time that Earhart was learning to fly, in 1921, Bessie Coleman became the first African American female pilot in the world. She got her pilot’s license in France, because no American flying school would accept a black woman.

And in 1993 – after Congress lifted the ban against women flying in combat – Jeannie Leavitt became America’s first female fighter pilot. She flew a total of 300 combat hours over Iraq and Afghanistan.

But women actually started flying military aircraft much earlier – five decades earlier. During World War II.

At the time, thousands of new airplanes were coming off assembly lines and needed to be delivered to military bases nationwide, yet most of America’s pilots were overseas fighting the war. To solve the problem, the government launched an experimental program to train women pilots. They were known as the WASPs, the Women Airforce Service Pilots.

*The song in the host intro and back announce is “Come Josephine in My Flying Machine,” performed by Blanche Ring in 1910.

Click here to subscribe to the Radio Diaries Podcast on iTunes.

Comments are closed.