|The following books have been recommended by Girls With Wings or
reviewed by Lynda Meeks, the founder of GWW.
Powder Puff Derby
One night I crawled into bed, thinking I would try to
read a chapter of Ms Jessen's book before I nodded
off. Well, I ended up reading 3/4 of the way through
her book. I absolutely loved it! It was so well written
that it didn't insult us pilots with explanations of
basic concepts but also didn't confuse non pilots
with aviation lingo. It had a lot of interesting tidbits
of historical information that I had no idea about --
even being a pilot who tries to read often of the
women who came before. It refreshes my belief that
the women who pioneered in aviation were true role
models for us today. We pilots today have it so
"easy" as far as more user friendly technology and a
little more public acceptance (but not completely,
hence the Girls With Wings mission).
Note: Clicking on the links on this page and following them to Amazon means that GWW
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The problem is that Amelia Earhart has become so well known for her tragic
end instead of her many accomplishments. Not only was she the 16th
woman to earn her pilot’s license, she was also instrumental in forming the
Ninety-nines, the Organization of Women Pilots and served as its first
president. This book chronicles her many feats of “firsts” (most of which I
was completely unaware) without sounding like a textbook making it
appropriate for pre-teens on up and I heartily recommend it.
Lori Van Pelt’s retelling of the challenges the racers endured during first
Women’s Air Derby is riveting, as well as her other flights in sometimes
minimally engineered or maintained airplanes long before the technological
advances that have made pilot tasks today center around an autopilot and a
flight management system. In my earliest days of flying, I remember
hearing, and much to my great chagrin, repeating, that Amelia was not “a
very good pilot.” This book relates those retold incidents that might have
led to this criticism, and explains the certainly justifiable and understandable
circumstances of many of them. As accounts from that time relate, in the
early days of aviation the odds against the pilots and the risks of
catastrophic outcomes were much greater. These were the days were not
too far away from the old adage of “a good landing is one you walk away
from, a great landing is one after which you can use the airplane again.”
So what I love about this book is that it is such a warm, affectionate
biography of who Amelia was and how it formed her personality and led her
to achieve so many things in a flying career cut much too short....
...Read the rest of my review on my blog.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, First Lady of the Air
Kathleen Winters asked me to read her book about Anne Morrow
Lindbergh, First Lady of the Air. I was honored by the request, and am
awed by her thorough research into Anne Lindbergh's role in the Golden
Age of Aviation.
We have heard so much about a few key figures of this time (1920's-30's),
notably Amelia Earhart and Anne's own husband, Charles Lindbergh (Lucky
Lindy), that it's easy to forget all of the other contributors to the
development of aviation as we know it today. The International Organization
of Women Pilots began in 1929 with 99 of the 139 licensed women pilots,
most of whom we've never heard of. Anne was one of the ones who didn't
join, but that shouldn't lessen the impact of her flying career.
Although she believes nothing she did was all that special, I felt an extreme
amount of respect for the trips she so bravely embarked upon. It is
wonderful to read a story that is able to inform about early pilot training,
licensing, navigation, and airplane design with the additional benefit of
Anne's own story, and her quiet and self-effacing contributions to her more
visible husband's success.
She and her husband were key figures in mapping potential airline routes
over uncharted regions of the world, and tales of these trips and the
hardships they endured are riveting. Her husband once responded to a
fellow pilot's criticism of flying with his wife over Northern Canadian routes
by saying, "You must remember that she is crew." Anne, overhearing this,
thinks, "Have I then reached a stage where I am considered on equal
footing with men?" As many female pilots today can affirm, this is the
highest form of praise and is highly valued nearly 80 years later.
Her story proves that we women in aviation "pioneers" are collectively
charged with advancing the knowledge the general public receives (and
benefits from) about women pilots. It wasn't Anne's way to seek the
spotlight, but that doesn't make her achievements less worthy of praise.
Throughout her many adventures, her nagging doubt of her abilities and
contributions, of being able to meet the standard that had been set for
men, led her to find herself and what was most valuable: her family and her
writing. Toward the end of her flying career, she reluctantly agrees to a trip
to Russia to survey its aviation industry, because, as she writes in her
journal, "If nothing else, she thought her children - and all children - may
benefit from seeing their parents take on adventures that proved they
weren't frightened of life." As they say, nothing worth doing is ever easy.
High Wide and
Thanks to GWW, Louise,
who recommended this
page: "Another thought i
had was a place on the
biog to say what
women pilots. I tell
everyone I ever meet to
read High Wide and
Frightened by Louise
Thaden as she is my
ultimate heroine and i
have a bookshelf with
just about everything
ever written about
female pilots- especially
1930s-1950s period. I
happily loan these out to
anyone who seems
remotely interested. I
know school libraries
don't have a large
selection when it comes
to this type of literature
but if more young girls
were exposed to these
strong female characters
and personalities they
would never doubt that
they could achieve great
Patterns: Tales of flying... and of life was written by a Girls With Wings
role model, Bette Bach Fineman. Written in a casual story telling style, this
chronicle of a woman's journey toward finding herself is very inspiring.
Broadsided by her husband's betrayal (can you guess who he was?), she
chose to exceed everyone's expectations of what a woman with aviation on
her brain can accomplish. Mind you, she did this as a single mom of six kids!
This is a very pleasant read of a woman who didn't let her circumstances
keep her down. She doesn't dwell on how difficult it must have been to keep
her family fed, just on her willingness to take advantage of opportunities
that came her way, from mechanic to ferry pilot, flight instructor to artist. If
the stories of the amazing flying adventures don't get you, the tales of the
kindness of strangers and friends will. www.bettebachfineman.com
A couple of nights later, again, I thought I would read just a chapter... and
then finished the book. I wrote an email to thank Ms Jessen for all of the
additional information about the women in the book, where they ventured
after the derby, and then to include stories of women in aviation up til now,
and in different fields? This is like a one stop shop for anyone to learn about
(and respect) the influence of women in aviation. I highly recommend this
|We use aviation to entertain and educate girls
about their limitless opportunities for personal growth.
|©2010-13 Girls With Wings, Inc. All rights reserved.
to postpone her dreams. So at 24 she
Monika Petrillo has never been a person
decided to get a pilot's license. A year
later, her father surprised her by learning
to fly as well. As the movie begins, they
take off together to circumnavigate the
continent of Australia. The only pilot of
eleven people, Monika experiences the
true freedom of flight above one of the
most untouched places on earth.
As she becomes exposed to Australian culture, she learns about the
Walkabout, a spiritual journey the Aborigines have valued for tens of
thousands of years. That inspires her to use this trip to take stock of her
proves much more difficult than she thought: a tight schedule, careful and
constant maintenance of the aircraft, pot-holed dirt runways, mechanical
failures, sudden loss of visibility and unpredictable crosswinds keep her both
too busy and too uptight. But what impacts her most is the conflict that
arises between her father and herself. They had both underestimated the
takes its toll; not only on the collaboration in the cockpit, but also on their
relationship. Monika struggles with feelings of responsibility on the one hand
versus doubts about contradicting her father, who has always been her role
model, on the other. As their plane continues its path across the outback,
the young woman slowly comes to realize that personal and spiritual growth
can't be forced. Instead of searching so hard, she starts to look out the
window. And that simple action is the first step towards learning the real
lesson. Flyabout is an intimate, personal story about a pilot's journey
around Australia. It is the story of a young woman growing into an adult
and coming to grips with how generational roles change over time.
|Learn a little 'bout life on the
road as a pilot!
Amelia Earhart: The Sky’s no Limit, by Lori Van Pelt. A
Young Adult Novel in the American Heroes series.
Often when I am speaking to an audience, I joke about how
people respond when I say that I’m a pilot. Sometimes, but
thankfully not too often, someone will remark, “Huh. I didn’
t know there were any girl pilots.” To which I respond,
sometimes out loud, “Well, surely you’ve heard of Amelia
Earhart. There’s one.”
|is a 501(c)(3)
Breaking Through The Clouds
At the terminus of the 2010 AirRace Classic in
Frederick, MD, I attended the premier of a
documentary about the first women's national air
derby, which took place back in 1929. I remember
being blown away by it then and I was so happy to
be asked to review "Breaking Through the Clouds"
for the producer Heather Taylor (and stock it in the
Girls With Wings online pilot shop, too).
I highly recommend this documentary. Heather has
done a top notch professional job and has received
many awards and national acclaim for BTTC.
Read the entire blog entry of my review.