About The Museum
Welcome to the WASP Museum!
Built in 1929 and originally the home of the Sweetwater Airport, Hangar One now houses the National WASP WWII Museum. Explore the rich aviation history of Sweetwater. During WWII, this hangar was on the “Civilian Side” of Avenger Field, where commercial planes landed. The military side was located where the Texas State Technical College campus is today.
“Hangar One” was named by the Board of Directors of the National WASP WWII Museum in honor of the original WASP training hangar located across the runway where the Fixed Base Operation (FBO) is today.
What You Will Find
Outside Hangar One
Feel the Wind! Look across the flight line and out into the West Texas landscape. It is just like it was when the WASP were going through AAF flight training at Avenger Field.
Three thirty-five foot flagpoles stand watch as the flags flap in the wind. Given in memory of Lt. Col. Bill Parrish and the 38 WASP who died serving their country, the U.S. flagpole was donated by WASP Deanie Bishop Parrish, 44-W-4. The Texas flagpole was given in honor of Betty Rose Wortham, Sweetwater’s Outstanding Citizen 1995 in recognition of her decades of commitment and efforts on behalf of the WASP reunions from 1972 through the opening of the National WASP WWII Museum. It was donated by the Wortham family. Donated by Laura Morrow, the WASP flagpole was given in honor of WASP Ruth Florey, 43-W-4, Laura’s mother.
Inside Hangar One
The lobby mural is filled with photos of WASP training at Avenger Field in 1943 and 1944. Stand-up cutouts in the lobby include WASP Charlyne Creger 44-W-10. Posters in the lobby highlight aviation in Sweetwater, planes flown by the WASP, and the original layout of Avenger Field in 1943 and 1944. A PT-19 plane is on display. Models of the planes that were used for training at Avenger are on display. A PT-19 is on display. A poster shows the 77 different types of aircraft flown by the WASP, on every type of mission in the Army Air Force, except combat. No WASP ever flew outside North America. The WASP wings–perhaps the most unique wings in all the world, were designed for the WASP–with a diamond in the center that symbolizes the shield of Athena–Greek goddess of war, take center stage on the floor of the hangar. Standing at the top of the WASP Wings is a bronze statue of Fifinella loaned to the museum by the Sweetwater Woman’s Forum.
Around the top of the lobby walls is a film strip featuring 119 WASP who have been interviewed as part of the Wings Across America project. Uniforms on display in the lobby showcase the dress uniform with Santiago Blue jacket & skirt and the Eisenhower jacket and pants of the flying uniform.
Jacqueline Cochran Exhibit
Our Jacqueline Cochran exhibit reveals her (see bio) connections with the movers and shakers of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Her marriage to Floyd Odlum, a lawyer and industrialist who also held a major stake in RKO Films, set her in a circle of friends that included Walt Disney, Bob Hope, the Rat Pack, and Clark Gable, as well as Chuck Yeager and Amelia Earhart. Jackie and Floyd entertained Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy at their ranch.
Exhibit donor Geneva Gordon-Derr and Jacqueline Cochran became friends in the Hollywood social scene. Geneva’s husband, the mayor of Riverside, served as the Director of Parks and Recreation with Disneyland within his realm of authority. Geneva stood in for Jackie at events on occasion, even wearing her medals when representing her. Geneva sang on some of Bob Hope’s USO tours, too. Jacqueline Cochran’s interest in beauty products through her cosmetic line and the fact that Geneva Gordon-Derr was a beautiful model also brought them together.
The National WASP World War II Museum greatly appreciates this gift by Geneva Gordon-Derr and James Adams.