WASPs in the bathroom!

Women Airforce
Service Pilots

WORKSHOP8 has been working on an awesome adaptive reuse project, Stanley Marketplace, for awhile now. Since I started at WORKSHOP8, I have been working on creative and fun concepts for the restrooms in the Marketplace (you may remember the Party in the Potty blog post). As I was doing research on Bob Stanley, the mastermind behind Stanley Aviation, I delved into his past, discovering that he was a military man. As an ode to Bob Stanley’s service to our country, we designed a Nose Art themed men’s restroom. 

Nose Art Rendering
WORKSHOP8 rendering of the Nose Art men’s room to be completed at Stanley Marketplace.

Coming up with the female counterpart to the Nose Art restroom was tricky. The obvious design would be pin-up girls, however, as I started to do more research into the time period I stumbled upon a topic that inspired me more: Women Airforce Service Pilots (aka WASPs). These were strong, determined women who didn’t want to support the men fighting for their country from the sidelines, but wanted to jump in and join the ranks, supporting the armed services from the sky.

WASP Group
Frances Green, Margaret (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn in front of their plane, “Pistol Packin’ Mama“. 
photo credit

The History

Nancy Harkness Love and Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran (the first woman to break the sound barrier) had both independently conceived ideas of how women should be utilized in the Airforce. In 1942, there was a shortage of male pilots. After much negotiation, Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was formed.

Nancy Harkness Love
Nancy Harkness Love
 

Jackie Cochran
Jackie Cochran

After much negotiation, it was determined that women would be utilized in non-combat missions, primarily ferrying aircrafts from factories to military bases, freeing up more men for combat-roles.

The requirements for female pilots were much more stringent than those of male pilots. While men were required to have 200 hours of flight time, women were required to have 500 hours (50 of them in the past year). Male pilots were required to have completed 3 years of high school and be between the ages of 19 and 45, female pilots needed to have graduated high school and be between the ages of 21 and 35 to apply.

Over 25,000 women applied. Of those women, 1,830 were accepted into the program and only 1,074 graduated and became WASPs. The WASPs were active from 1942 to 1944, flying over 60,000,000 miles collectively in every type of military aircraft.

In addition to transporting aircrafts, they also helped with target practice. The women would tow targets behind their planes, while the men preparing for combat would practice shooting either from the ground or from the sky.

“I use to fly B-26’s  “Twin Engine Bomber”  It was called a “flying coffin!”  We would be used as “target” practice for the men. We would tow a target behind our plane and up in the sky, the men in their bomber planes would shoot live ammunition from their gunners of their B-24’s at our target. We did this over the Gulf. The bullets were color coded so they would know which men had shot which bullets at our target.  One of those B-24 pilots, Lt. Bill Parrish, instructed his gunners to aim close so he could meet the blonde girl pilot – they came so close, they put a few holes in the tail of my airplane.”

-Deanie Parrish, from an interview with Maggie Kennon

Read more at Family Security Matters. 

Deanie ended up marrying the sly devil who shot too close!

Deanie and B26
Deanie Bishop Parrish
(left), World War II B-26 (right).

Long Overdue Recognition

After a long battle with politicians and different veteran organizations, WASPs were finally granted veteran status and benefits in 1977, previously this was only offered to men in the military. This was more than just financial support from their government, but also long overdue recognition of the work the women performed for their country.

In 2009, President Obama signed a bill awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Women Airforce Service Pilots. 

Obama
President Obama
signing the bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the WASPs.

The Restroom

She Belongs
WORKSHOP8 Rendering of the She Belongs women’s room to be completed at Stanley Marketplace.

It may seem silly to honor such badass women in a restroom. However, we anticipate that many women, young and old, will come across these images and be inspired to follow (and fight for) their passion as the WASPs did.

She Belongs Poster
Inspiration for the theme of the bathroom came from the WASPs themselves as well as this vintage recruitment poster.

Make sure you come visit Stanley Marketplace when it opens in September, and take a peak at the “She Belongs” ladies room on the second floor!

THANKS FOR READING

Chelsea Semelka, Interior Designer
8 July 2016