Mayme Tanner is one of the last surviving female pilot trainees from the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs).
The program allowed women to fly as civilian pilots in military aircraft, providing their assistance where needed during World War II. Tanner was one of over 1,000 women, out of 25,000 women who volunteered, accepted into the WASP program during the war.
Women accepted into the program were between the ages of 21 and 35 and were taught to fly the military way, even though most of them had more flight hours than male pilots in the Army Air Corps. During their training, they endured the same routines of military boot camp. They were then assigned to military bases across the country where their duties included towing targets, aiding as flight instructors and flying radio-controlled planes.
By the end of World War II, the WASPs had flown over 60 million miles in every aircraft in the Army Air Corps, and only 38 were killed while serving their country. WASPs were never militarized, while they served they remained civil servants. In 1977, Jimmy Carter signed into law a legislation awarding the WASPs veteran status.
Tanner recently celebrated her 100th birthday on July 25, 2014, and is recognized as an idol for women everywhere, telling them, “Any girl can do it if they’re determined to. Just stay with it.”