Flying as a WASP
Women pilots set the standard in 1943
Summer 1943, the battle for Europe rages on. The United States and their allies are fighting on all fronts pushing Hitler's Third Reich back into Germany, liberating parts of France along the way.
With over nine million people serving across the U.S. military in 1943, many were men serving overseas, leaving factory jobs nearly empty. Women took to the task, leaving behind meticulously manicured lawns and trading in dresses and purses for coveralls and rivet guns.
As B-17, B-26 and B-29 bombers left their factories in places like Seattle, Wichita and Omaha women again took up the responsibility to deliver these aircraft overseas.
These extraordinary female pilots were called WASPs.
The Women's Airforce Service Pilots paid their own way to travel to basic training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. More than 25,000 women applied, but less than 2,000 were accepted into the program and just over half earned their pilot wings.
One of those women was Bernice "Bee" Falk Haydu.
"To qualify, applicants had to be at least 5 feet, 4 inches tall, pass Army physicals and have a pilot's license," Haydu said. "Women also had to have at least a high school diploma and be age 18 to 35."
"Most of the women were college graduates, but the toughest part of the training was you started out in a basic aircraft and then you'd go to a medium and then an advanced," Haydu said.
Haydu joined the WASP program in 1944.