The “Fly Girls: The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of World War II” exhibit at Nashville International Airport. [Credit: Alison Fullerton]

Art Exhibit Celebrating WASPs Takes Flight at Nashville International Airport

Flex Air Co Aviation History, Aviation News, Travel

Nashville International Airport (BNA) has become a temporary home to a remarkable art exhibit titled “Fly Girls: The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of World War II.” This display, crafted with encaustic wax by artist Alison Fullerton, pays homage to the trailblazing women who took to the skies during a pivotal time in history.

The Inspiration Behind the Exhibit

Alison Fullerton, moved by her experiences after marrying into the military and living in Germany, felt compelled to shine a light on the women who served with valor but received little recognition. The WASPs were a group of pioneering female aviators who, during World War II, broke barriers and contributed significantly to the war effort. Despite the critical roles they played, their stories remained largely untold for decades.

A Tribute to Courage and Commitment

The exhibit, located on the first floor of BNA’s international terminal, features 30-by-40-foot panels that bring the WASPs’ stories to life. Fullerton’s work is a testament to the courage of these women, particularly highlighting Nashville native Cornelia Clark Fort, who had a harrowing encounter with Japanese Zeros during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The WASP Legacy

Out of 25,000 applicants, only 1,830 were admitted to the WASP program, with 1,074 serving in noncombat flying roles. These women faced adversity and risk without the formal recognition afforded to their male counterparts until 1977. Fullerton’s exhibit not only showcases their bravery but also educates the public about the WASPs’ long-overdue acknowledgment.

Engaging the Public with History

Each panel of the exhibit is designed to draw visitors in, featuring newspaper headlines that tell the WASPs’ story. Fullerton’s goal is to foster recognition and understanding of the WASPs’ sacrifices and struggles for recognition. The exhibit is a call to remember and honor these women who contributed so much to their country.

Arts at the Airport: A Cultural Gateway

The “Fly Girls” exhibit is part of the Arts at the Airport program, established in 1988, which showcases a diverse array of artistic mediums. This program reflects Nashville’s vibrant arts scene and offers travelers a glimpse into the city’s cultural heartbeat.

An Exhibit Destined to Soar Beyond Nashville

Fullerton has designed the exhibit to be mobile, intending to spread the story of the WASPs to a broader audience. After its tenure at BNA, the exhibit will travel to the Palm Springs Air Museum, the U.S. Army Aviation Museum, and return to Nashville for a solo exhibition at the Customs House Museum.