The Champaign Aviation Museum (CAM) is pleased to announce that it was one of 18 local history organizations to have been awarded an Ohio History Fund grant at Statehood Day on March 1 at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
With this grant of $2,337 plus $1,558 in matching funds, CAM will complete an 86-inch video display in honor of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II.
During WWII, the Army Air Force (AAF) faced a serious shortage of pilots. Men were needed to fly combat overseas, but there was still much flying to be done stateside. In 1942, the AAF turned to women pilots for help, and in 1943, the WASP program was founded.
After months of learning to fly “the Army way,” 1,074 women pilots graduated from the rigorous training program and became the first women in history to fly American military aircraft. They were skilled and effective, and their duties included ferrying every type of aircraft used by the AAF, towing targets for live artillery practice, performing engineering test flights, transporting personnel and cargo and flying simulated strafing missions.
Not only did the WASP release men pilots for combat duty, they blazed a trail for future generations of women aviators everywhere. CAM’s new WASP video display will feature archival film footage to share the experiences, hardships and triumphs of the women pilots of WWII and is the second in a series of ongoing updates to the Museum’s permanent WASP exhibit.
“It was a privilege and an honor to attend Statehood Day as an Ohio History Fund grant recipient, and to represent CAM and the women pilots of WWII — especially during Women’s History Month,” said Jessica Henry, Development Manager at the Champaign Aviation Museum. “Now more than ever, there is a growing urgency for the public to have accessible opportunities to learn from the historic times when people worked together and used their unique abilities, despite perceived social and physical differences, to achieve a common goal. The WASP video display and exhibit at CAM provides this important learning opportunity for our region, and aligns very well with the Museum’s mission of Touching Lives by Restoring History.”
This project is funded in part by the Ohio History Fund, a grant program of the Ohio History Connection. The Ohio History Fund is made possible by voluntary contributions of state income tax refunds, sales of Ohio History “mastodon” license plates and other donations. Go to www.ohiohistory.org/historyfund for more info.