Female pilots from World War II return to training site in Texas
Most of the women who walked to the aircraft parked at Alliance Airport, some of them relying on walkers and canes for help, hadnt flown over the brown earth and scrub of West Texas since the war.
Their heartbeats quickened as they climbed into small aircraft, pulled headsets over their ears and heard the rumble of engines cranking up, emotions and memories flooding to the surface as they launched one by one for Avenger Field in Sweetwater, a historic footnote to World War II but so much more to the women who earned their wings there.
"It was the greatest time of my life, the greatest opportunity I ever had," said Helen Snapp, a 90-year-old woman who traveled in the back seat of a T-6 Texan, a 1940s trainer with 650 hp and a throaty growl that remains one of the best planes she ever flew.
Many decades before women donned flight suits to fly Apache attack helicopters and F/A-18 Hornets, another generation had already broken the cockpit barrier.
They were 1,074 members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, the WASPs. They earned their wings at Avenger Field, which in 1943 and 44 teemed with ambitious young women learning to fly the Army way.
On Thursday, 38 of them from all parts of the nation flew back to Sweetwater in what was dubbed Operation Fifinella, after a Disney character that became the WASP mascot.
Join the discussion below, or Read more at www.star-telegram.com.
“Time flies like an arrow...”
Since: Mar 07
"fruit flies like a banana"
#1 Sep 26, 2008
Too bad the advance publicity wasn't as good as the actual pre-flight coverage. I would have loved the opportunity to organize a "hero's welcome" at the airfield for these wonderful women.
I would have loved to have met them and personally thanked each of them for their service to our country.
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