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Bird Aviation Museum celebrates female pilots

WASPs flew military aircraft during World War II

The Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center, on Bird Ranch Road in Sagle, Idaho, honored the magnificent, pioneering women in the world of aviation during Women of Courage 2010, a celebration with the community and a chance to share memories Saturday, July 17, at the museum.

There were 19 WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots), of the less than 300 still alive, who attended this historic, once-in-a-lifetime event that included the unveiling and dedication of a monument in their honor. The monument also honors other American women who served their country in World War II, including the WACs, WAVES, Women Marines, SPARS, nurses, Rosie the Riveters and other courageous women.

More than 1,000 WASPs flew in wartime service from 1942 to 1944 and were trained to fly everything from fighters and bombers to transport and training aircraft. The first women in history to fly military aircraft, they amassed more than 60 million miles flying and 38 died in service. In March, many of the surviving WASP members traveled to Washington, D.C., to accept the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest civilian honors awarded by Congress.

The public was invited to meet these women who helped pave the way and change history in aviation in this free event. The day’s itinerary included :

9 a.m. Fly-in at the Bird Airport - NW Chapter 99s, Experimental Aircraft Association, Volunteers of the Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center, Friends of Sandpoint Airport, Coeur d’Alene Pilots Association and the Spokane Bi-Plane Association. 

10 a.m. Special unveiling and ceremony in honor of WASPs and all women of courage who have served our country in a variety of ways.
11 a.m. Lunch made available by Shriners and the Community Assistance League (CAL)

10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. - WASPS and other pioneers will “meet and greet” the community, telling their stories, signing autographs, and educating guests old and young alike.

For additional information, please call 208-255-4321 or visit www.birdaviationmuseum.com.

To read stories published in the media about this event, follow these links:

Museum honors WASPs for service

Women of World War II finally get their recognition

Pilot program for equality

Female war aviators to be feted by museum

A military legacy

WASPs to be honored for service

Click to see a photo show of the Women of Courage event by photographer Charles Ballo

Click to see a photo show of the VIP dinner at the home of Dr. Forrest and Pamela Bird by photographer Charles Ballo

Honor the first women in history to fly military aircraft