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The WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) Museum will host the 9th Annual WASP Homecoming this Saturday, May 25, at Avenger Field in Sweetwater. Along with the 18 WASP in attendance will be Julia Wood, a modern day WASP in her own right. Wood began flying in 1981 while still a freshman in high school in St. Paul, Minn., earning her private pilot license at the age of 17. Since graduating high school, Julia has earned a BS in Aviation Technology from Purdue University, she has piloted a variety of aircraft including Boeing 727s and she has logged more than 15,000 total flying hours. However, Juliaâs accomplishments donât end there. She is also a competitive aerobatic pilot with over 1,800 aerobatic hours and she is the 2010 Aerobatic Racing Challenge Series Champion. Wood will arrive at Avenger Field this weekend in a Fairchild PT-19 that belongs to the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas.
The Cavanaugh Flight Museum, which promotes aviation history and aviation heritage, owes its beginnings to Jim Cavanaughâs love of airplanes and the personal collection he began in 1980 when he purchased a half-share of a 1939 Piper J-3 Cub. In 1993, Mr. Cavanaugh, the founder of Jani-King International a commercial cleaning services franchise, decided to share his collection with the public by opening the Cavanaugh Flight Museum. The museum now encompasses over 50,000 square feet of display area and houses over 50 airplanes, mostly warbirds, most of which are airworthy. At the Cavanaugh Museum, visitors can view the airplanes and other aviation artifacts, take rides in a variety of planes, or even rent the facility for birthday parties or other events. The museum also has a number of volunteer pilots who are able and willing to fly the planes to air shows throughout the country, much like Julia Wood. Carol Cain, the WASP Museum Administrator, said, âWe are so happy that Julia has agreed to take time out of her schedule to participate in our event, and we are so fortunate to have the support of the Cavanaugh Flight Museum.â
This yearâs WASP Homecoming marks the first time the museums have collaborated. Cain said, âThe Cavanaugh Flight Museum has done an incredible job of promoting aviation history. We hope to learn from them and to continue our relationship going forward.â
The WASP Museum has already taken steps to emulate the larger Cavanaugh Museum. Just recently the WASP Board of Directors received a full set of plans for an expansion at the museumâs current location. The improvements will greatly enlarge the museum and most importantly, the plans include climate controlled space that will allow for the preservation and proper display of the many precious artifacts that the museum has collected. Fundraising is underway, and those interested in donating can do so at www.waspmuseum.org.
The public can also show their support by coming out to this weekendâs WASP Homecoming. The event will be an all-day affair and will include plenty of excitement for all ages. The festivities begin early with several warbirds and other planes on display, including a Beech-18, a T-6 Texan, the Cavanaugh Museumâs Fairchild PT-19, several Stearman PT-17s, and a Douglas C-47 Skytrain. Also available at the event will be the opportunity for children between the ages of 8 and 17 to go up for a free ride in an airplane as part of the EAA Young Eagles program. There will be plenty of other activities and sights throughout the day including HANGARburgers and Fififries for lunch and an opportunity to meet the WASP in attendance.
Cain is inviting and encouraging the public to come out and learn the history of the WASP and to visit with them. âTexas is fortunate to have such incredible cultural resources like the WASP and Cavanaugh Museums,â said Cain. âWe appreciate all the support we receive from our sponsors, donors and the community, and we hope everyone comes out this weekend to enjoy the festivities, fun and flying!â
The National WASP WWII Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation located at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, the training field of the Women Airforce Service Pilots. The WASP Museum seeks to educate and inspire all generations with the story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots â the first women to fly American military aircraft â women who forever changed the role of women in aviation.
The Cavanaugh Flight Museum is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization devoted to promoting aviation studies and to perpetuating America's aviation heritage; the museum fulfills its mission by restoring, operating, maintaining and displaying historically-significant, vintage aircraft, and by collecting materials related to the history of aviation.