With Her Own Wings: The WASP travelling exhibit

This exhibit is still in its infancy as it is entirely self-funded by Noëlle Alexandra.

The what: A traveling exhibit, ideally free with a request for donations, otherwise a lot of an entry fee as possible.  This is not a for-profit endeavor, but won’t be free to put on either.

The goal: To tell the story of the WASP through the ordinary women who did extraordinary thing.

The purpose: No one will travel to see Avenger Field or go out of their way to lear more about the WASP if they don’t first know who the WASP are.  This means reaching out to people, going where they are, and educating them and enticing them to want to learn more.

The thought: When we see exhibits on overall group, we never get to know the individuals, and when we don’t get to know them, it’s easy to see them as starting from a place of perfection and springing forth into this world as already extraordinary.  This can leave us with a sense of why bothering to try to emulate them.

The vision: Five women, three who made it through training, two who did not, to approximate the ratio of those who made it and those who washed.  If possible,  one would be one of the 38 who gave their lives.  Show where they came from.  Let the visitor get to know them as people in their earlier lives, wart and all.  Let little girls see children like themselves. Show their motivation, then their training.  Let the visitor see that not all made it, and let them sit with that.  Show the work it took as a WASP, the tired days, the joys, the difficulties.  Fill in the holes as needed with general information.  The visitor would still be seeing it through the eyes of our wonderful pilots.  Then show where their lives went afterward.

The visitor should leave with a sense of personal connection with at least one of these women, and girls should leave able to see themselves as able to do extraordinary things too, as the girls pilots they just as young girls did, and through this connection, they should have an understanding about the program as well.

Noëlle as a reenactor at Avenget Field during WASP Homecoming 2023. Uniform is a modern reproduction that will be remade, but the pins are originals that once belonged to Elizabeth Lora Gardner, 43-W-6.

The challenges: Financial, limited artifacts, and needing familial cooperation.  As more things from the WASP are donated to archives, some sadly never to see the light of day again (Noëlle has been trying for several month to arrange archive tours, but they are very difficult to get), the things still in private hands are becoming fewer, and the costs are rising.  Noëlle knows that buying everything would require massive funding or being a millionaire, so would need to borrow things she can’t buy.  This means needing to find families willing to share stories who are also willing to either affordably sell or donate, or loan items.  The point of an exhibit is to see things, not to look at photographs you can look at on the internet.  There is a magic to seeing in person.

The motivation: They were the ones who, along with her WAAC grandmother, told Noëlle that girls absolutely can too fly planes, no matter who says girls shouldn’t fly planes, and guess who now fly planes.  To thank them for what they did for her and for the ground they broke, Noëlle wants to make sure they are never forgotten, and the best way to do that is to make them a personal for visitors as they are to her. These women deserve it, and more.



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