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Commemorative Air Force to tell WASP story in traveling exhibitCommemorative Air Force to tell WASP story in traveling exhibit

The Commemorative Air Force wants to tell the story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) in a traveling exhibit that is planned for 2017.

“The CAF is not just about flying aircraft. Our primary mission is education,” CAF President Steve Brown said July 27. The organization’s challenge is, “How do you inspire the next generation to be enamored with the Greatest Generation?” he said.

The CAF’s Red Tail Squadron uses a traveling exhibit featuring a P-51 Mustang to travel around the country and educate children about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen. The exhibit brings home the message that the United States’ first black military pilots and their support personnel rose above their circumstances to do great things, said Bill Shepard, leader of the CAF Red Tails Squadron.

The CAF’s 60 units and 11,000 members bring educational outreach to all corners of the United States, Shepard said. He said the organization plans to create a similar traveling exhibit to tell the story of the WASP, the civilian female pilots who flew military aircraft under the direction of the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. It will be an immersive, interactive presentation that utilizes a domed theater that envelops viewers.

The CAF has tapped Heather Penney to be national chair of the new exhibit. Penney was piloting an F-16 for the U.S. Air Force on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and was one of two pilots prepared to ram and bring down United Airlines Flight 93 before it reached Washington, D.C.

“If it were not for [the WASP’s] efforts I would not have been” flying on Sept. 11, Penney said. “We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude, but we need to turn that over and pass that on to the next generation.” She said the project will honor the WASP’s history and service, and will provide tools to young women and men to overcome barriers and achieve their goals.

The CAF needs to raise $500,000 to produce the film. Each dome costs $50,000. Brown said the organization would like to reach 1 million children per year and hopes to provide a dome to each of its 60 units. Fundraising is underway with a goal of screening the movie in 2017, he said.

Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
Topics: EAA AirVenture, Pilots

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