Hat tip to the the Winged Victory Women in Aviation Webzine, which over the past few weeks, has posted book reviews of the following books about fascinating female pilots that should be on any pilot’s summer reading list:
A WASP Among Eagles: A Woman Military Test Pilot in World War II. This autobiography narrates the story Ann B. Carl who was the only American woman to test-fly experimental aircraft during WWII. Moreover, she was the first woman to fly a jet aircraft.
Red Sky, Black Death: A Soviet Woman Pilot’s Memoir of the Eastern Front. This biography tells the fascinating story of Anna Yegorova who first flew wooden biplanes on reconnaissance missions during World War II and then became a flight leader who flew "Shturmovik" ground-attack aircraft. However and after being shot down and captured near Warsaw, she spent five months in a Nazi concentration camp only to be further persecuted and treated with suspicion after the war by the Soviet secret police. Yegorova was eventually awarded the illustrious "Hero of the Soviet Union" award in 1965.
Jackie Cochran: Pilot in the Fastest Lane. This biography tells the story Jackie Cochran, who helped to create a fleet of female pilots (which she commanded) during World War II and the first woman to break the sound barrier. However, the book also noted that Cochran was: “scheming, manipulative and known to bend the truth so it would work to her advantage.”
From Nazi Test Pilot to Hitler’s Bunker. This biography narrates the story of how Hanna Reitsch excelled as a glider and test pilot in Nazi Germany. During the final days of the war, she flew to Berlin to join Hitler in his bunker only to be ordered to fly out again to rally the Luftwaffe to save the Reich. However, Winged Victory also noted that four reviewers on Amazon.com have given the book one star – claiming its both poorly written and biased against its subject.
Takeoff!: The Story of America’s First Woman Pilot for a Major Airline. Takeoff! tells the story of Bonnie Tiburzi, who at age twenty-four, became the first female pilot to be hired by a major United States airline. In fact, she was so eager to fly that she had flying lessons at age twelve and got her pilot’s license at age nineteen.
Spreading My Wings: One of Britain’s Top Women Pilots Tells Her Remarkable Story from Pre-war Flying to Breaking the Sound Barrier. This autobiography narrates the life of Diana Barnato Walker, the daughter of millionaire racing driver and the granddaughter of the cofounder of the De Beers mining company, who flew scores of different aircraft during World War II. She also flew a Lightning through the sound barrier in 1963 to become “the fastest woman in the world.”
Wings Around the World: The Exhilarating Story of one Woman’s Epic Flight from the North Pole to Antarctica. This autobiography tells the story of Polly Vacher who wanted to be the first pilot to complete a solo flight around the world by flying via both Poles in a single-engine aircraft .
Callsign Revlon: The Life and Death of Navy Fighter Pilot Kara Hultgreen. Written by the mother of Navy Lt. Kara Hultgreen, the first woman to fly a high-powered Tomcat in a fighter squadron, this biography tells the story of her life and death in an October 1994 crash during an attempt to land on an aircraft carrier. Her death would spark a heated debate over whether she was qualified to fly and whether or not women should serve in combat.
If there are any other inspiration books about female pilots that we have left out, let us know in the comments section below.