Fayette County Cultural Trust - Explore Fayette County Pennsylvania
 
Florence Shutsy-Renolds
 
W.A.S.P.S.
 
Woman Airforce Service Pilots
 
The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and its predecessor groups the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) (from September 10, 1942) were pioneering organizations of civilian female pilots employed to fly military aircraft under the direction of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. The WFTD and WAFS were combined on August 5, 1943, to create the paramilitary WASP organization. The female pilots of the WASP would end up numbering 1,074, each freeing a male pilot for combat service and duties. The WASP flew over 60 million miles in all, in every type of military aircraft. WASPs were granted veteran status in 1977, and given the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
Twenty-five thousand women applied to join the WASP, but only 1,830 were accepted and took the oath, and out of those only 1,074 women passed the training and joined.
 
 
Florence Shutsy-Renolds
 
 
She is known as Shutsy, which is her maiden name. She decided to go by her unique last name because she believed people would remember her name more easily. Shutsy, who came from Connellsville, Pensylvania, where she eventually returned, remembers wanting to learn to fly at an early age. She was the youngest of four children, and her father told her older siblings it was time for them to consider what they would do with the rest of their lives. Although she was just 7, she knew exactly what she wanted to do: She told her father she wanted to learn to fly.
 
Her father told her she was too young, and her siblings laughed at her. But she got the last laugh.
 
She became a member of the WASPs, who served the U.S. during World War II in the absence of male pilots who had gone overseas. The group was formed two years before Shutsy was allowed to be a member because she was too young. She wrote to them every week for two years, asking to become a WASP. Then they lowered the age restriction from 21 to 18, and she was able to become a WASP at the age of 20. She said she cut out the article that announced the change in age restriction and sent it with her final letter of request to join. They soon responded and told her to report for duty.
 
Shutsy trained at Avenger Field in Sweetwater from December 1943 to June 1944.
She saw her first PT-17 aircraft at Sweetwater and fell in love with it. She said the aircraft was in the romantic era of aircraft: It had an open cockpit, and pilots wore goggles and scarves to fly.
 
Shutsy said she does not have stories that she thinks are that interesting. “I never crashed, but I did have some close calls,” she said.  She also said she had some great times with her fellow WASPs. “It’s the good times you remember,” she said.
She remembered watching a movie in Sweetwater at the Texas Theatre that was about WASPs, and she and her friends thought it was so terrible they snuck out. “We squatted down and crawled out, so no one would see that we were leaving,” she said.
 
Shutsy was eventually stationed in California, and when the war was over, she went back home on $10.25.
 
After the war, Shutsy worked as a flight instructor for the Air Force and had other related jobs. She also married, after meeting her husband-to-be on a blind date.
For the WASP Museum, she has used her artistic abilities to make banners for each reunion, and she made one for each command they served under. Those 13 banners hang in the museum, as do others.
Shutsy also does silver work for the WASPs, making pins and other items.
 
 
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We Were WASP, part 1
Women Airforce Service Pilots in WWII.
 
 
 
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We Were WASP, part 2
Women Airforce Service Pilots in WWII.
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