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December 21, 2016
BT-13 Valiant Unit: Houston Wing Location: Houston, Texas Progress: 30% Expected Completion: Summer 2017
Flying the BT-13 was a crucial part of training for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), the first female pilots to fly American military aircraft. In an effort to help tell this often overlooked story, the Houston Wing has selected this BT-13 to fly as a tribute to these trailblazing women.
Built in 1942, the Houston Wing's BT-13 was found perched atop a welding shop as decorationg after World War II. In order the preserve this aircraft, CAF col. Rick Sharpe purchased her and brought her to Texas. It took several years to get the aircraft airworthy to fly, making her return flight on june 26, 1982. Since then, she has extensively flown at airshows and performed veteran appreciation flights.
The BT-13 was a common basic training aircraft during World War II, essential in training pilots to fly, including the WASP who learned many of their basic flying skills in the airplane.
Last year, the Houston Wing purchased a new engine for the aircraft. The engine has since been mounted and the aircraft is ready for the next phase in her transformation.
The wing's goal is to transform the airplane into a fitting tribute to the WASP, cosmetically making it look like the airplanes stationed at Avenger Field, the WASP training base and spiritual home. this means the current 30 year old paint must be stripped, a feat which the wing cannot undertake themselves, thus needing this task to be contracted out since the paint contains hazardous compounds. The wing is looking to cover the cost of the paint stripping, at around $12,500.
The Houston Wing is eager to connect the BT-13 to the WASP story and outfit the airplane as a fitting tribute, planning to fly her to the annual WASP homecoming Reunion in Sweetwater, Texas, at the end of May, 2017.