More Than 20 WASPs Show for Homecoming at Avenger Field
By Fareed Guyot, Manager – Electronic Publications, EAA 388642
No. 12 in front of World War II hangar that houses the WASP Museum. All photos by: Jim Clark
Bee Haydu (Faulk was her maiden name) finds her name on the memorial wall.
Mike Porter taxis No. 12 for takeoff for flyby of memorial service. All photos by: Jim Clark
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June 2, 2011 — The National WASP World War II Museum held its annual WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) homecoming at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, to honor more than 1,000 women who trained at the field during WWII. More than 20 WASPs attended the May 28 event, the youngest being 88 years old. Held on a windy and sweltering Texas day in one of the original hangars built at Avenger Field, the heat did not affect the honored pilots as they spent hours in the non-air-conditioned hangar happily sharing stories and memories of their time in the service.
At Avenger Field many of the WASPs completed their primary training in the PT-17 Stearman Kaydet. Jim Clark, who is making a documentary about the Kaydet called The Stearman Spirit, said the WASP Museum is still in the process of fundraising for a building.
“One of the purposes of the museum is to capture the stories of these women, to honor their service and preserve as much as possible the artifacts from that period at Avenger Field,” Clark said.
One of the actual planes flown by the WASPs was restored by Mike Porter and flown from its home in Ohio to Texas for the event. The typical west Texas wind kept all the scheduled flying activities from occurring, but Porter was able to go aloft at sunset for flyby tribute to the WASPs. All the WASPs were given complimentary tickets by American Airlines to fly into Dallas/Fort Worth, and some were flown to Sweetwater by members of the Ninety-Nines.
Saturday evening about 300-500 people showed for the main event, a hangar dance in Hangar One, the current home of the National WASP WWII Museum.