Friday, May 23, 2014

Fly Girls: A Documentary About America's WASP

"Half of the brain power in our country is in the heads of its women and if we don't use this to the best of our advantage, then we are the poorer for it."

I thought I knew all there was to know about the WASP (the women who ferried aircraft during WWII. Those of you who follow this blog should know who they are. LOL), having read so many books about them now, but there's always room for more knowledge. Thus, I purchased this DVD from PBS and watched it recently. I have to say, though much of it I've already read about, it was a great pleasure to actually see these ladies on the screen. I not only saw and listened to the older women reminisce, but also viewed old video and footage of them flying, marching, throwing each other in the fountain, running from snakes at Avenger field, everything.

It's so awesome to SEE it, not just read it.

I also learned that in a way, Cochran was the downfall of the WASP. Apparently they could have been militarized had she been willing to be under another woman colonel. This would have been the combining of the WASP with the WAC, but Jackie couldn't stand the idea of being under the command of a woman who "doesn't know her ass from a propeller".

Hum. I'm not a fan of Cochran. But that's funny.

Some facts:

-The WASP flew a total of 60 million miles during their service.
-38 women died.
-They made 3k a year.
-They had "dating lists" by the phone at Camp Davis. One list of men that were okay to date, one list of men who weren't.
-Cornelia Fort was killed by a male pilot who clipped her wing.
-The women stored high-heeled shoes in the wings, where normally bullets went.
-Some went to be test pilots and there was a cool bit about the effects of being at 25,000 feet, of how they couldn't even spell their own name.
-During their 6-month training, they had to do 200 flight hours and 400 ground school hours.
-At least 100 male pilots found mysterious reasons to land at Avenger Field the first week of the WASP training.
-Camp Davis had problems...lots of harassment of the life-threatening sort and discrimination. There was sabotage and sugar was found in a gas tank, but darling Jackie was unwilling to jeopardize her program so kept it quiet.

Some of this I knew, some of it I didn't. Some, I just needed reminders of, but as I said above, you can't beat the real video reels and the photos and oh, the women telling their tales. Even of the B-29 ladies is on this! I especially enjoyed the white-haired lady (the one who flew the B-29) who provided the quote posted above. The videos even show us the simulators they used at Avenger Field.

For the aviation or WWII enthusiast, or even just the feminist, this is a DVD I highly recommend for you.


  1. Thanks for sharing this info with us. It sure does sound like something worth watching. Would be a great learning experience for some I am sure. I love how you find such interesting things to share with us keep up the good work.

  2. Have you read Code Name Verity? England/Scotland WWII and all about a girl pilot. I'm reading it now and am breathless. It's an incredible book.

    1. I did...I did not like it. The writing style just didn't agree with me, the choice of narrative.