'Dot' Swain Lewis, Woman Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) - Colorado Springs, CO
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
N 39° 00.610 W 104° 53.475
13S E 509415 N 4317910
Quick Description: The WASPs history was classified for many years before these patriotic pilots could be recognized for their contribution to the war effort and recognition of the abilities of women.
Location: Colorado, United States
Date Posted: 7/10/2011 3:11:28 PM
Waymark Code: WMC0AT
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Thorny1
Views: 1

Long Description:
"'Dot' {dorothy] Swain Lewis was one of 10 women pilots taught to be instructor pilots at Phoebe Omlie’s Women’s Research Flight Instructor School, from late 1942 to early 1943. The school was a one-time experiment, set up by the Tennessee Bureau of Aeronautics, to prove that women were capable of being instructor pilots. Phoebe Omlie believed that “Women taught men to walk, they can teach them to fly!” Her women instructor pilots went on to train Navy men to fly in combat situations. While Lewis was still an instructor under training at Omlie’s school, Jackie Cochran approached her about joining the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Lewis declined Cochran’s invitation at the time because she wanted to honor her obligation to complete instructor training. After a few months teaching Navy men to fly, she accepted a position teaching the WASP to fly. Eventually she resigned from teaching the WASP in order to become a WASP. Lewis did double duty serving our nation in World War II. She taught future Naval aviators to fly. No doubt some of those Navy men flew in combat and helped win World War II. As a WASP, she flew military aircraft on missions, which relieved male pilots for combat. One of these aircraft was the MartinB-26 Marauder, which towed targets for B-24 gunners in training. While serving as a WASP, she also helped document their experience and maintain morale with her humorous cartoons and musical talents. A year after World War II the WASP held their first reunion at Piper Aircraft in Lock Haven, PA. Lewis and a group of WASP ferried nearly 100 yellow Piper Cubs and Cruisers first to the Cleveland National Championship Air Races, then on to their destinations. Since World War II, Lewis has married and had a family, and lived a lifetime of extraordinary accomplishment. She has taught biology, physics, art, horseback riding, and flying. She is an accomplished artist and sculptor.

A little girl in North Carolina, who was barely thirteen, took her Sunday School money and paid for her first flying lesson. She earned her instructor’s rating and then taught at the Naval Aviation College in Portales, New Mexico. While flying for Piper Aircraft Co. she learned of the experimental flying program for women pilots at Avenger Field. She was hired as a primary instructor. After a short time, she decided she wanted to fly the larger planes, so she resigned and became a trainee in the program, After graduation, she was assigned to Columbus Army Air Field, Miss., flying AT-10s, but was soon transferred to Laredo Army Air Base, Tx, a flexible gunnery school. Dot flew the P-40 and P-63 and towed targets with the B-26. After the WASP, Dot pursued other interests and careers, including ’stunt’ flying as ‘Miss Ophelia’. She had horses, an airplane, a ranch. was a FAA designated private and commercial examiner, flight instructor and she still plays a ‘mean’ guitar, but her first love is art, which she taught for 26 years She used her artistic talents and did the illustrations for the book, ‘We Were WASP’ for her dear friend, the author and WASP, Winnie Wood. Dot has created several pieces of art which will forever represent the WASP, including a WASP statue which will be unveiled during the reception at the temporary National WASP WWII Museum at Avenger Field on May 27, 2005." (from (visit link) )

"The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and its predecessor groups the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) (from September 10, 1942) were pioneering organizations of civilian female pilots employed to fly military aircraft under the direction of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. The WFTD and WAFS were combined on August 5, 1943, to create the paramilitary WASP organization. The female pilots of the WASP would end up numbering 1,074, each freeing a male pilot for combat service and duties. The WASP flew over 60 million miles in all, in every type of military aircraft. WASPs were granted veteran status in 1977, and given the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.

Twenty-five thousand women applied to join the WASP, but only 1,830 were accepted and took the oath, and out of those only 1,074 women passed the training and joined.

All records of the WASP were classified and sealed for 35 years, so their contributions to the war effort were little known and inaccessible to historians. In 1975, under the leadership of Col. Bruce Arnold, son of General Hap Arnold, the WASPs fought the "Battle of Congress" in Washington, D.C., to belatedly obtain recognition as veterans of World War II. They organized as a group again and tried to gain public support for their official recognition. Finally, in 1977, the records were unsealed after an Air Force press release erroneously stated the Air Force was training the first women to fly military aircraft for the U.S.

This time, the WASPs lobbied Congress with the important support of Senator Barry Goldwater, who himself had been a World War II ferry pilot in the 27th Ferry Squadron. President Jimmy Carter signed legislation #95-202, Section 401, The G.I. Bill Improvement Act of 1977, granting the WASP corps full military status for their service. In 1984, each WASP was awarded the World War II Victory Medal. Those who served for more than one year were also awarded American Theater Ribbon/American Campaign Medal for their service during the war. Many of the medals were accepted by the recipients' sons and daughters on their behalf.

Because of the pioneering and the expertise they demonstrated in successfully flying military aircraft, the WASP pilots' record showed that women pilots, when given the same training as men pilots, were as capable as men in non-combat flying.

In July 2009, President Barack Obama signed the WASP Congressional Gold Medal into law.

On July 1, 2009 President Barack Obama and the United States Congress awarded the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal. Three of the roughly 300 surviving WASPs were on hand to witness the event. During the ceremony President Obama said, "The Women Airforce Service Pilots courageously answered their country's call in a time of need while blazing a trail for the brave women who have given and continue to give so much in service to this nation since. Every American should be grateful for their service, and I am honored to sign this bill to finally give them some of the hard-earned recognition they deserve." On March 10, 2010, 200 surviving WASPs came to the US Capitol to accept the Congressional Gold Medal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional leaders." (excerpted from (visit link) )

Inscribed around the base is "We live in the wind and sand and our eyes are on the stars." This monument sits in Cadet Plaza at the US Air Force Academy which is easily visited by the public.
Civil Right Type: Gender equality (women's suffrage)

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