Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien

Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien
How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History
Publisher: Eamon Dolan/Mariner Books
Genre: Historical, Non-Fiction
Length: Full length (382 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Between the world wars, no sport was more popular, or more dangerous, than airplane racing. While male pilots were lauded as heroes, the few women who dared to fly were more often ridiculed—until a cadre of women pilots banded together to break through the entrenched prejudice.
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Fly Girls weaves together the stories of five remarkable women: Florence Klingensmith, a high school dropout from Fargo, North Dakota; Ruth Elder, an Alabama divorcée; Amelia Earhart, the most famous, but not necessarily the most skilled; Ruth Nichols, who chafed at her blue blood family’s expectations; and Louise Thaden, the young mother of two who got her start selling coal in Wichita. Together, they fought for the chance to fly and race airplanes—and in 1936, one of them would triumph, beating the men in the toughest air race of them all.

Five women wanting to own the sky.

I’ve been on a bender reading historical non-fiction books. I’m in awe of the space program, but this book shows where things all began–flight. When I saw the name Amelia Earhart, I thought, okay, this is about her big flight. But it’s really not. It’s about the women who wanted to learn to fly and were part of the twenty-nine who originally got pilots licenses when it wasn’t considered something women should do. I loved the pioneering spirit of these women and the “never give up” attitude.

The writing flowed well, but there were times when I wasn’t sure who I was reading about. The lead-up to the reveal about which woman was being spotlighted in any given chapter was a tad long. At times it read a bit like a textbook, but I wanted to know about these women, so I kept going.

I’ve heard of Earhart, but have you ever heard of Ruth Nichols? Louise Thaden? Ruth Elder? They were giants in airplane racing. Yeah, racing. Never heard of them? You should. If you read Fly Girls, you will. If you’re a fan of flight and pioneers in flight, then this might be the book for you.

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