*** Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien

If  you thought that Amelia Earhart was the only early woman pilot, Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History will show you four more, all with extraordinary lives and extraordinary luck to survive (at least for a while) the hecatomb of deaths at a time when planes could easily catch on fire, lose engines, or just get lost in the fog. (One of the five, Louise Thaden, once had a job identifying suitable barns who roofs could be marked with their approximate locations to help aviators.)

Their flying exploits are interesting enough, but I found the other stories in the book even more intriguing: how they got to learn to fly, how they supported themselves, whether as social workers (Amelia Earhart!), successful salespeople of planes or real estate, or writers, and how their families (mostly) helped them succeed. And they needed the help, as the  times were not favorable to female pilots. Amelia Earhart initially gained fame for crossing the Atlantic in a plane piloted by men, as women were thought unable to pilot or navigate, let alone both, even after they proved that they were quite capable in races that (finally) admitted both genders.

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