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WASPs arrive at Sweetwater Army Air Field

February
21
1943

On this day in 1943, the first trainees of what would become the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) arrived at Sweetwater Army Airfield (better known as Avenger Field). Organized the previous year as the Womens Flying Training Detachment and the Womens Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, the organizations were consolidated as the WASPs in August 1943. Under the direction of famed aviatrix Jacqueline Cochran, experienced women pilots in civil-service status were trained to fly army planes to relieve men for World War II combat duty. For a brief period, Avenger Field trained both men and women, but in April 1943 it became the "only all-female air base in history," except for the male instructors and support crews. Fourteen classes, totaling 1,074 pilots, earned their wings in every type of army plane before the WASPs were disbanded on December 20, 1944.The WASPs flew sixty million miles for the AAF and received high praises from their commanders; thirty-eight pilots died in service.

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