“Hidden Figures” was the surprise breakout hit film of 2016, depicting the trials and tribulations of three African American woman who played crucial roles in the early space program. Naturally, Hollywood has been in the hunt for the next big project about women who accomplished great things while fighting against discrimination. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “#Silver Wings” may be that project.
“Silver Wings” will tell the story of women pilots in #World War Ii who, as part of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) group.
The WASPs performed noncombat flying missions in the Continental United States, flying planes from the factories to ports of embarkation or training bases and performing other tasks such as transporting cargo and flight testing new aircraft. The WASPs flew every aircraft in the military inventory at the time. Every WASP who flew a plane in the United States freed a male pilot to fly combat missions in Europe and the Pacific. None of the WASPs received combat training such as gunnery, formation flying, and dogfight maneuvering.
Some 1074 women served in the WASPs during World War II. The vast majority were white, with two Hispanic American women, two Asian American women, and a Native American woman earning their wings. A single African American woman was pressured to withdraw her application due to the racist climate of the times. 38 WASP fliers lost their lives during the war.
However, the WASPs were not considered members of the military but rather civilian contractors. That meant that none of them got veterans’ benefits after the war. Indeed, those WASPs who died in training accidents and in the performance of their duties were denied military honors with their bodies transported home at their families’ expense.
Not until the 1970s, with the help of Sen. Barry Goldwater, were the WASPs considered active duty for the purpose of veterans’ benefits. The WASPs were awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
“Hamilton” director Thomas Kail is moving from the stage to the silver screen to helm “Silver Wings.” The movie will be based on Katherine Sharp Landdeck's book “The Women With Silver Wings.”
“Silver Wings” has a great potential for being as much of a hit as “#Hidden Figures.” World War II movies have always been popular since the first propaganda films made when the conflict was still consuming the globe. Stories of marginalized people accomplishing great things despite discrimination also can entertain and enlighten, if guided by the right hands. The story of the WASPs is something that is long overdue to be told on the big screen.