Make-up Case, Women Flyers of America, Civilian

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

This makeup case bears the emblem of the Women Flyers of America. It belonged to Mattie F. McFadden, an aeronautical engineer who worked for Chance Vought Aircraft Company. She served as the Bridgeport, Connecticut, chapter president of the WFA and later became the organization's national president.

The WFA was founded in 1940 for all women with an interest in flying "for sport, profession, or national emergency." With local chapters in major cities throughout the United States, the organization helped women take part in various areas of aviation. It folded in 1954 due to lack of interest.

Collection Item Long Description:

The Women Flyers of America (WAF) was established in April 1940. The founders, Opal Kunz and Chelle Janis, started the club in New York City, but the large response turned the WAF into a national organization almost immediately. By December 1941 there were 10 chapters all over the country. The almost constant increase in membership was aided by the low fees and the fact that the club was open to any woman interested in aviation unlike the Ninety-Nines which only allowed women pilots to join. Its primary goal was to educate women in many areas of aviation. Ground school lessons were offered at a low price and the club worked to provide discounted flight schools. Later, under the leadership of Vita Roth, a parachute-jumper record holder, the WAF expanded its educational role by providing classes in meteorology, air traffic control, parachute-rigging and created an All-Women's Aircraft and Engine Mechanics class at the Teterboro School of Aeronautics in New Jersey. With the advent of World War II and women's desire to contribute to the war effort, the WAF helped those who wished to work for the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). The WAF disbanded in 1954 due to a lack of interest, but it was one of the first organizations to provide women with opportunities in aviation.