World War II was very beneficial for women who wished to be involved in aviation. As World War II continued, women found it easier to participate in many aspects of flight and aviation in general. They became test pilots, ferry pilots, flight controllers, pilot training instructors, mechanics, and aircraft production line workers. At the beginning of 1943, over 31% of the aviation work force in the US was female.
The US Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) Civil Pilot Training Program taught many women to fly during WWII. More than 900 women achieved their pilot’s licenses by 1941. Forty-three of them served as flight instructors.
The Women’s Auxiliary Ferry Squadron (WAFS), which was founded by Nancy Harkness Love, along with the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD), founded by the famous Jacqueline Cochran, were merged by President Roosevelt and became the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots, also known as WASP. This organization was an important part of military aviation. Unfortunately, since these women were civilian employees of the military, they were not recongized as military personnel, until 1977 when the US Senate passed a resolution, and it was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter.
The years since WWII have seen the barriers erased for female pilots. Flying records continued to be broken. In 1953 Jacqueline Cochran went on become the first woman pilot to break the sound barrier, with Chuck Yeager acting as her chase pilot. And Marion Hart flew the Atlantic Ocean in 1954 at the age of 62.