Collection Item Summary:
This is an example of the dress Santiago blue uniform coat issued to the Woman's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) during World War II.
This particular uniform was worn by the donor Bernice Haydu. Haydu was accepted in WASP training class 44-7 in early 1944. During her seven month training period she advanced from Stearman PT-17 primary trainers through to the North American AT-6 advance trainer. Upon the completion of her flight training, she was stationed at Pecos Army Airfield, Texas as an engineering test and utility pilot. Her flying duties were cut short when the WASP program was disbanded on December 20, 1944.
After World War II, she obtained a flight instructor’s rating and taught flying and ground school. In addition, she ferried surplus aircraft throughout the country. She turned this into a business and ferried aircraft in the Northeast for the Aeronca and Cessna Aircraft Companies. This lead to her obtaining a Cessna dealership.
In 1975, she was elected President of Order of Fifinella, the WASP organization. With the assistance of Col. Bruce Arnold, the son of General Hap Arnold, the group launched a vigorous campaign to obtain veteran status for the WASPs. With the support in the Senate from Barry Goldwater and in the House of Representatives from Lindy Boggs and Margaret Heckler, the United States Congress voted to have the WASPs declared as veterans of World War II. President Jimmy Carter signed this bill into law Nov. 23, 1977. She continued to support women's aviation careers in the military by helping to found the Women Military Aviators organization.