The Legacy of Flight

Images from the archives of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

Otto Lilienthal gliding. (NASM)

Female Factory Worker


The U.S. Navy opened the Naval Aircraft Factory at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard during World War I to help assure its airplane supply, evaluate contractor costs, and develop experimental aircraft. The Navy soon decided to hire female workers and set up a training program specifically for them. Many, like this young woman, worked on assembling wings; others covered the wings, painted aircraft, or worked in the sawmill or machine shop. By Armistice Day, women made up almost a quarter of the factory’s work force.


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