FREDERICK, Md (WDVM) — During World War II, thousands of women stepped up to become the pilots of military aircraft and fill the roles left behind by men overseas.
Now, two women are taking to the sky decades later in their honor.
At the Frederick Municipal Airport, pilots Amanda Farnsworth and Katie Pribyl, were gearing for take off on a flight to Normandy.
“We’re wanting to highlight our women service pilots who were really instrumental in World War II. They did so much and got no credit,” said Farnsworth.
During the Second World War, male pilots were sent to tackle the enemy abroad, leaving behind a shortage of domestic pilots.
More than 25,000 women signed up to train as a part of the Women Air Force Service Pilots program or WASP. Only 1,102 got the chance.
“They took the planes off the assembly lines, did flight testing for the new planes, they ferried the planes to the men who would fly them in the war,” Farnsworth explained of the WASP member’s duties.
By December of 1944, the WASP had flown every type of military aircraft manufactured for World War II.
Over the course of the flight, Farnsworth and Pribyl will jot down notes to be included in a high school curriculum for students interested in taking to the skies.
The high school initiative is part of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, or AOPA, You Can Fly program. Courses introduce students to careers in aviation and aerospace through a rigorous four-year STEM-based curriculum.
The program introduces several areas of aviation, “whether its weather planning, or flight planning,” Pribyl explained, “But one of the things I love so much about aviation is not only does it develop technical skills, but it develops really great soft skills like communication and decision making in a crisis.”
This trip will take these pilots about a week, with stops in Canada and Iceland before reaching Normandy.
“The reason that Amanda and I can take this flight today is because of the pioneering efforts that they went through during world war two to prove women are great pilots,” said Pribyl.