WWII WASPs in colour

Lillian Yonally (above) was a WASP - a Women Airforce Service Pilot. During WWII, the 1,100 WASPs flew military aircraft on training flights in the USA to train volunteer male pilots for combat missions.

Lillian, who was 17 when war broke out, trained at the Sweetwater Army Field in Texas flying B25 bombers. She served in the seventh class of the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) in which women pilots lead training exercises for male pilots including aircraft tracking both during the night and at high altitude, along with acting as targets for combat training.

The WFTD women flew over the Mojave Desert towing large, colored nylon sleeves 30 feet behind them that were designed to catch bullets fired by trainees. By the time the WASPS were disbanded, on Wednesday December 20th 1944, 38 women had been killed. The WASPS were not recognised as war veterans until 1977.

This week the WASPS were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony on Capitol Hill.

“We broke the glass ceiling. We were the pioneers. We were what opened it for women to fly.”


Thank you to John Pollock.

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