Jacqueline Cochran

In 1939, on the day after Germany's tanks rolled into Warsaw, pilot Jacqueline Cochran sent a letter to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt encouraging the use of women pilots in the armed forces. In May 1940, another pilot, Nancy Harkness Love wrote the Ferry Division of the Army Air Forces with a similar idea, but the Army was not ready to put women in the cockpit of planes.

The demand for male combat pilots and warplanes left the Air Transport Command with a shortage of experienced pilots to ferry planes from factory to a point of embarkation. The leaders remembered Love's proposal and hired her to recruit twenty-five of the most qualified women pilots in the country to ferry military aircraft. These outstanding women pilots were called the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, or WAFS.

By September 14, 1942, General Henry "Hap" Arnold, Commanding General of the Army Air Forces, also approved a program that would train a large group of women to serve as ferrying pilots. The training school was placed under the direction of Cochran. The program was called the Army Air Forces Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD).