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American Women Pilots and 2002 Free Spirit Honoree Fighter Pilot McSally  - 2004-11-14


Among the many American military veterans are 1100 women who earned their wings and became Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War Two. Only about 400 of them are still alive.

At the time, very few women flew planes. It was considered a man's job. The women ferried supplies and planes. They were test pilots for repaired aircraft. And the dangers they faced were real. 38 women were killed during the war. And some as student pilots, and some in ferrying command, and some in training command.

The women worked hard and had better flight records than male pilots, but they faced gender discrimination.

Lt. Col. Martha McSally, is the highest-ranking female fighter pilot in the U.S. airforce. In January 1995, she became the first U.S. woman to fly a combat aircraft into enemy territory when she flew over Iraq.

While on assignment in the Middle East, she was responsible for combat search and rescue operations for all aircraft enforcing the "no-fly zone" over southern Iraq. While Stationed there, McSally challenged Muslim dress codes for U.S. female troops in Saudi Arabia.

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