NC Maritime Museum in Southport hosting program highlighting women pilots

NC Maritime Museum at Southport (Photo: WWAY)

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport is celebrating Women’s History Month by showcasing a story unique to the area.

“During World War II, women served in various roles to bring about victory,” museum Education Curator Shannon Walker said. “Many women joined the military as US Army WACs, US Navy WAVES, or Coast Guard SPARs. But one of the most interesting was the WASP, or Women Airforce Service Pilots.”

Kaitlin O’Connor, an interpreter with Fort Fisher State Historic Site, will be at the museum March 18TH from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to share the story of the 52 WASPs who came to Southeastern North Carolina, serving at the Army Antiaircraft training facilities based at Camp Davis in Holly Ridge.

Flying war-weary aircraft, the women’s mission was to pull cloth targets behind their airplanes. As the planes flew by, the gunners with Anti-aircraft Battalions training around Topsail Island and at Fort Fisher would fire live ammunition at the targets.

“They would also perform nighttime flights they called ‘Moonlight Calvary’ mission for the Searchlight Battalions around Burgaw,” Walker said. “These women understood this was a dangerous job, but one they volunteered to do.”

The program is part of the museum’s “Deep Dives into History” series, which combines living historians, displays and hands-on activities to help visitors connect more directly to the past. The free drop-in program is open to the public and designed for all ages.

Registration is not required. The Deep Dive series continues on a monthly basis through November.

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