“In Her Honor” Celebrates Women Airforce Service Pilots

In many respects, World War II changed the way American women interacted with their nation and the world at large. With a majority of the men an ocean away, women were able to pick up jobs they never had the opportunity to do before. Some even found themselves in the thick of the war, serving in their own military ranks for the first time ever. A new exhibit at the Indiana State Museum, In Her Honor, highlights the legacy of Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) in World War II.

Recently one of Indiana‘s own heroes from World War II was recognized for her contributions to the Second World War with a Congressional Medal of Honor. As a service pilot some sixty-five years ago, Mary Anna “Marty” Wyall, currently of Fort Wayne, Indiana, never dreamed she would be recognized for her efforts so long after the close of the war. But she, along with countless other brave women, donned the title of Airforce Service Pilot when they saw their country in great need. The medal is one of the two highest awards given to civilians by the United States government, and proves that Wyall’s shared legacy as a WASP will go unnoticed no longer.

The Indiana State Museum and Puddlejump Pictures have collaborated with each other and with Wyall to create In Her Honor, highlighting her personal story as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots. The exhibit highlights her training and experiences as a WASP. In addition, it features her some of her personal belongings including the Congressional Gold Medal, which will be on display after April 13, 2010. The exhibit also includes a short documentary about Wyall, as she shares a first hand account of her time as a WASP.

Women Airforce Service Pilots was an organization of civilian female pilots, employed to fly military aircraft for the United States during World War II. With a little more than a thousand female pilots, the WASPs helped to free up male pilots for combat service. WASP was created in 1943, as a combination of both Women’s Flying Training Detachment and Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. The idea to use female pilots for non combat positions in order to strengthen numbers on the combat front first surfaced in 1941.

WASP training spanned nineteen groups of women. Each member had a pilot’s license, an average of 1,400 flying hours and a commercial pilot rating in order to qualify to serve. Though more than 25,000 women applied to serve as a WASP less than 1,900 were selected. In a 30 day orientation session, these pilots learned to complete Army paperwork and fly by military regulations. Most completed four months of military flight training, in order to fly American military aircraft. Despite the fact that these women did not train for combat, their training mirrored that of aviation cadets. Afterward, each pilot was assigned to various ferrying commands at one of 120 air bases across the United States.

These women flew every type military aircraft flown by the United States Airforce at the time. A few exceptionally talented women were permitted to test rocket-propelled planes and jet propelled planes. Thirty eight WASPs lost their lives in the line of service, but because they were not considered part of the military, their families were afforded no financial help or traditional military honors. But these brave women did not fight for pomp and circumstance, they fought for a world in need of help.

Find out more about Women Airforce Service Pilots at the Indiana State Museum. Head to Indianapolis downtown for a trip to this fine Indianapolis museum. With prime Indianapolis real estate along the Indianapolis Canal Walk and White River State Park, the Indiana State Museum is located near tons of other great Indianapolis attractions.

Make your outing in Indy complete. Treat yourself to lunch at any of these great Indianapolis restaurants. Or if you feel so inclined, after your trip through the momentous exhibit, In Her Honor, at the Indiana State Museum, make a toast to the women of WASP at any of these Indianapolis bars. Stay tuned to Indianapolis News, Event and Information on Fun City Finder.com for all the latest on fun things to do in Indianapolis.

In Her Honor
Now through August 8, 2011

Indiana State Museum
650 W Washington St
Indianapolis, IN 46204

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