Lesson Plan

Women Aviators in World War II: "Fly Girls"

Jackie Cochran, one of America's leading aviators
Photo caption

Jackie Cochran, one of America’s leading aviators, headed the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program during World War II.

"Women pilots have as much stamina and endurance … as male pilots doing similar work. Women pilots can safely fly as many hours per month as male pilots."

—Jacqueline Cochran, Director of Women Pilots "Report on Women's Pilot Program" (1944)

In this lesson, students will explore the contributions of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) during World War II. They will examine portrayals of women in World War II posters (and newsreels) and compare and contrast them with personal recollections of the WASPs. Students will gain an understanding of the importance of the WASP program, which enhanced careers for women in aviation. Students can also explore the EDSITEment Learning Lab collection "Breaking Barriers: Race, Gender, and the U.S. Military" to learn more about the contributions of women to multiple U.S. war efforts. 

Guiding Questions

What contributions did the WASPs make during World War II?

What was it really like to be a WASP?

How have women contributed to the U.S. military and war efforts?

Learning Objectives

Explain the contributions of WASPs to the war effort.

Analyze how women were portrayed in World War II posters and newsreels.

Compare and contrast those portrayals with personal recollections of the WASPs.

Evaluate the roles played by women in the U.S. military and wars of U.S. history.