S.C. crew to honor female fliers of WWII

Thirteen female Air Force Reservists have a special mission this week – fly several women who are pioneers in military aviation to Texas for what could be their last reunion.

Capt. Lyndsey Goodman and the all-female crew from Charleston Air Force Base are flying a C-17 transport to Georgia to pick up some members of the Women Air Force Service Pilots, commonly known as “WASPs.”

“These women are a hoot,” Goodman says of the elderly World War II-era fliers. “They can talk your ear off. Their stories are amazing.”

The women were to fly to Irving, Texas, where the reunion is scheduled for today through Sunday, said Capt. Wayne Capps, spokesman for the S.C. base.

Goodman met several of the pioneer aviators at a conference last year. She said she didn't know exactly whom she might be flying, but that didn't matter because they all helped pave the way for people like herself to fly.

“I think that generation of women is fantastic,” said Goodman, 29, who works as a jazz singer in civilian life and will sing the national anthem and some 1940s-era songs at the reunion.

The WASPs flew cargo missions, towed training targets, moved aircraft and did other noncombat activities to free up more male pilots for combat missions. There were 1,800 of them at the time. About 300 are sill living, and 150 are expected at the reunion.

The women weren't considered part of the military until 1977, when President Jimmy Carter signed legislation that gave them veteran status.

The C-17 crew will provide special seating pallets on the huge aircraft so the veterans will have normal airline-style seating. A special air medical evacuation crew of two nurses and four medical technicians also will be on the flight, which will serve as a training mission for them, Capps said.

Another all-female Air Force crew from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., is also scheduled to fly into the reunion on board a C-130 transport plane, Capps said.