Students at Sanford, Fla.-based Aerosim Flight Academy students received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity recently when two Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) were guest speakers at their school. Two members of WASP, Bernice “Bee” Haydu and Shirley C. Kruse, came to the academy to talk to students and staff about being a WASP before, during and after the war.
In World War II, Haydu and Kruse, along with 1,072 other women, earned the title of Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP). They were trained to fly “the Army way” by the U.S. Army Air Forces at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. These pioneers did not see combat, but they did fly 60 million miles and spend 60,000 hours in flight.
Haydu and Kruse spent over two hours at the academy, sharing a presentation on how they made their mark in aviation history and talking one-on-one with their future successors: Students learning how to fly at Aerosim Flight Academy.
“Bee and Shirley are two amazing women who shared their lifelong passion for aviation with our students,” said Shannon Sheppard, Director of Education for Aerosim Flight Academy. “There’s nothing better or more inspiring than an experienced pilot sharing her stories with the next generation. We received a lot of good feedback from the students, and we will continue to bring guest speakers to the campus.”
The WASP organization was decommissioned in December of 1944, and their active flying status for the military was over. Most of the WASPs wanted to continue to fly, but no airline or aviation organization would recognize the women as qualified pilots. This did not stop Haydu from continuing her passion for flight; she went on to start her own aviation company with her husband, training pilots and passing on her knowledge and experiences.
On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress awarded WASP members with the Congressional Gold Medal. Haydu and Kruse had their medals on display for students during their visit to Aerosim Flight Academy.
For more information: Aerosim.com.