women-aviation

TERRELL, Texas — “Women, Aviation and WW II” is the title of a traveling exhibit that will be on display at the No. 1 British Flying Training School Museum, 119 Silent Wings Blvd, in Terrell from August 19 – October 1.

“We are excited to host this photo exhibit, created by the Vintage Flying Museum in Fort Worth, that tells the story of what was happening on the home front during World War II,” explained Executive Director Patrick Hotard. “The training of British Royal Air Force cadets in Terrell is just one example of the contributions made by those who never joined the US military but played a major role in the successful fight against tyranny. I hope that many students and their parents see the exhibit to better understand the role Terrell residents played in winning the war. ”

The exhibit honors women who were essential to the war efforts. From the “Rosie the Riveters” who worked in the defense industry to female pilots who joined the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) or the women who were Link trainers at the BFTS school in Terrell, each played a vital part in moving the Allies closer to victory. Many took on these new roles while continuing to meet family obligations at home.

Among the stories told are those of Bessie Coleman who became the first African-American and first Native American woman to earn an international pilot license by training in France in 1921. After flying in air shows for a number of years, she was killed in a plane crash in 1926 before she was able to realize her dream of starting a flying school to teach African-American students.

Another female pioneer in aviation was Jacqueline Cochran, one of the most prominent racing pilots and business executives of her generation, who set numerous records and was the first woman to break the sound barrier. Before the US joined World War II, Cochran worked for the British Air Transport Auxiliary, recruiting qualified American pilots to join the ATA in non-combat positions. From 1943-44, she headed the WASP program which employed about 1000 American women who ferried planes from factories to port cities or military bases and also towed targets for gunnery practice.

“Many people are familiar with the iconic Rosie the Riveter image on World War II posters,” Mr. Hotard continued, “and some met one of the actual Rosie’s during our March program earlier this year. No one realizes that nearly 19 million women joined the workforce during World War II. This exhibit shows the great variety of jobs they held from making munitions, as our visiting Rosie did, to the women mechanics who kept the planes flying at the air school here in Terrell.”

The original exhibit was funded by the FASH Foundation with additional support from the Summerlee Foundation. The exhibit is managed by the Texas Lakes Trail Region of the Texas Historical Commission.

The museum is open from 10 am to 4 pm Wednesday – Saturday and admission is free. Donations are appreciated. Check the website www.FBTSMuseum.org for information or call 972-551-1122.