Friday 5 January 2024

The Women with Silver Wings

Finished December 27
The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II by Katherine Sharp Landdeck

This book drew my interest after reading about these women in both history books and fiction. (For fiction, The All Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg, for nonfiction Our Mothers' War by Emily Yellin.)
There were many women looking to do their part during the war, and pilots were a small but vocal group. This book outlines how two women pilots led the charge, but didn't always agree about how to go about it, or about what the end result should be. Those two women were Nancy Love and Jacqueline Cochran, and at first they led to different endeavours for the female pilots. Nancy Love started with a handful of women who served as ferry pilots, moving planes around the country as needed, to free up male pilots for frontline work. Her pilots had significant experience and were based with Air Transport Command in Wilmington, Delaware. 
Jacqueline Cochran was already flying in a similar capacity in Britain, leading a group of American women pilots flying for the ATA there. (A great fiction book about the female Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) pilots is The Beauty Chorus by Kate Lord Brown). When she heard about the women led by Nancy Love, she returned to the U.S. as fast as she could and argued that she was promised a lead role in women pilots flying for the war effort. She was then put in charge of recruiting other women pilots with less experience and getting them trained. She started on this immediately, and started at a Houston, Texas base, later moving to Sweetwater, Texas. 
This book looks at a number of women that were pilots, as well as the two leaders, and we see their different stories, and follow them through training and some of their more memorable flights. 
We also see the decades long fight for them to get the same recognition and status as the men that did the same jobs. 
A well-researched book that highlights a notable group of women pioneers in their field. 

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