"I loved the job, in fact I asked for it, because it involved so much acrobatics and I could fly at night if I wanted to and I Ioved that," said Alyce Rohrer, a former mechanical test pilot. "When we graduated, we would graduate as First Lieutenant, just like the boys did."
The Women Airforce Service Pilots were a special unit that flew noncombat missions to free up male pilots for combat. During the war, the women were considered civilians, but in 1977, federal law granted them status as veterans. Since 2002, they have been eligible to have their ashes placed at Arlington with military honors. But in March 2015, then-Secretary of the Army John McHugh ruled WASPs never should have been allowed in and revoked their eligibility.
Just over 1,000 women were accepted into the WASP program, which ran from 1942 to 1944. There are an estimated 112 WASPs still alive, according to Kate Landdeck, a history professor at Texas Woman's University.
Tiffany Miller is the granddaughter of a WASP who organized a Change.org petition to push Congress to pass a bill allowing her grandmother to be inurned at Arlington. "She considered Arlington National Cemetery to be a museum of sorts, so anybody who goes there would know the WASPs did exist and their contribution to the war was important," said Miller.
Rep. Davis is supporting a bi-partisan bill to restore inurnment rights at Arlington. The bill is currently in the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "We think they made the wrong decision when it came to taking away the ability of Women Airforce Service Pilots to be buried there," said Davis. "They volunteered for this job and it's important that they be treated with the respect they deserve."
SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/AP) - Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) was at Palomar Airport Sunday for "The Greatest Generation Meets the Next Generation: Women in Flight", an event honoring Women Air Force Service Pilots. The panel was hosted by Women in Aviation International, San Diego Chapter, The Red Door Films, and Jet Source.
Davis spoke about her efforts in Congress to restore military burial honors for female World War II Air Force pilots.
Edward L. Abeyta, Ph.D., Director of the UCSD Extension K-16 Programs
Congratulations to chapter member Rich Martindell, who will receive the 2016 National FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year award at AirVenture in Oshkosh this summer on July 28th. WAI members attending AirVenture are invited to attend the ceremony and help celebrate this achievement for a WAI member. Rich is an instrument flight instructor and the Vice President of Course Development at King Schools. He and a group of volunteers organize a monthly Wings seminar in San Diego every month. Rich also shares his experiences as an Air Force pilot flying F-4s and F-15s, with other pilots in the RedStar Pilots Association and also with pilots in the Mooney Caravan who want to learn how to fly in formation.
After almost a year of planning, and thanks to Edward L. Abeyta, Ph.D., Director of the UCSD Extension K-16 Programs (including Sally Ride Science), we are joining to offer advancement in the areas of aerospace and aviation education for young girls in the community.
More than 100 scholarships were distributed to WAI members during the 27th annual International Women in Aviation Conference to WAI members at every stage of life, from university students to mature members seeking a mid-life career change to aviation. A total of $661,234 in scholarships was awarded this year.
The scholarship which helped attain the team million dollar total was sponsored by King Schools. The Martha King Scholarship for Female Flight Instructors includes $5,000 toward an advanced CFI rating and lifetime access to the entire King Schools course library, bringing the total value of the scholarship to $18,120.
King Schools co-chairman and scholarship namesake Martha King said, "We have supported WAI since the beginning of the organization. I am humbled and proud that this scholarship is the one that took WAI over the ten million dollar mark. I hope that this milestone inspires others to also step up and support the goals of WAI. The organization provides invaluable support for women building careers in the aviation industry."
The Martha King Scholarship was given to WAI member Lindsey Dreiling, an Associate Dean/Professor of Technology & Aviation at Kansas State University in Salina, Kansas. She has a commercial pilot certificate with single and multi-engine airplane and instrument ratings. She is also a certificated flight instructor for single engine and instrument airplane. Lindsey is pursuing her doctorate in aviation and will use the scholarship to help achieve her goals.
From its humble start of two $500 scholarships in 1995, when WAI first decided to award a scholarship at its annual conference and sold $1 tickets to raise funds, to a scholarship program exceeding $10,000,000, the award-sponsoring companies, organizations and individuals have changed and enhanced the lives of hundreds of deserving recipients.
On September 16th, WAI San Diego Chapter President Jill Meyers was acknowledged for her outstanding leadership, character and integrity, not only in her field of Aerospace Engineering, but in a large part for the work she does for WAISD and the San Diego community as a whole.
As members of WAISD, we all know of Jill’s unwavering commitment to promoting the involvement of women and girls in aviation and aerospace. It is heartening to see that we are not the only ones who appreciate all she does for women, especially in the San Diego area.
We congratulate Jill for this recognition of her professional excellence, her contributions of time and energy to the improvement of our community, and for actively assisting women in realizing their full potential.
Jill received the 2016 Women in Leadership Award from the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce, one of seven winners out of 35 nominees. The Annual Women In Leadership Luncheon takes place every fall and celebrates women from all over San Diego County who have made an impact on their community. The awards were presented at a luncheon with over 350 attendees and covered by local media.
The Women in Leadership Award recognized the dedicated work Jill does with WAI and in her acceptance speech she talked about how much it means to her to help the next generation of women interested in aviation and aerospace. She spoke about what inspired her as a young woman, and of the number of times she was told "no, you can't do that", or "no, you shouldn't do that" because she was a girl. Luckily for those of us who know her for the leader she is, she went ahead and did those things anyway. Read more about Jill’s background.
(Jill’s speech received the only full-room standing ovation of the event and she has already been contacted about several speaking engagements.) Read her speech.
In addition to Women in Leadership Award, this month Jill was also named Section Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee for the San Diego Chapter of The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Thank you, Jill Meyers, for serving as a role model and mentor to other women and girls and for advocating for the positive social change that helps close the leadership gap. You have earned the respect of your community and your peers with your actions and attitude and absolutely deserve this recognition for giving your time, talents and resources to the women and girls of San Diego.
Elaine Harmon served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) organization during WW II.
For 50 years, female World War II pilots have fought to be treated like their male counterparts. In her last year in office, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski is joining their final battle: to be allowed into Arlington National Cemetery when they die.
Along with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mikulski (D) introduced legislation to again give that option to Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs.
Elaine D. Harmon, a Marylander who died last year at the age of 95, was 25 when she signed up for the WASPs. She and her 1,101 fellow female pilots flew planes across the country and helped men train for combat, sometimes by taking live ammunition. They were paid less than male pilots and received no benefits. It wasn’t until 1977 that they were recognized as military veterans, although 38 of them died during their service.
Harmon, who attended the first funeral for a WASP held at Arlington, told her family that she wanted her ashes to be laid to rest there with her fellow pilots, relatives said.
$2,500 for a new scholarship this year!
As part of our new partnership, UCSD Extension is donating $2,500 in scholarship money to WAI San Diego for our 2016 Scholarship program. We will be giving out a Flight Training scholarship this year which will help a local WAI member obtain a private, instrument or commercial rating, and provide funds to attend the 2017 International Women in Aviation Conference in Orlando in March.
The leadership of WAI San Diego is extremely excited about this news and we extend our thanks to Dr. Abeyta and the team at UCSD Extension for making this partnership a reality.