The list of women pilots who persevered against the odds to make aviation history is long. Since the Wright Brother’s, they have performed, set records, and stepped up to serve bravely in times of need despite sexists attitudes and limits to opportunities. There are dozens whose compelling stories and accomplishments make great reading. Here are a few.
|Amelia Earhart’s Daughters: The Wild And Glorious Story Of American Women Aviators From World War II To The Dawn Of The Space Age|
Women Aviators: 26 Stories of Pioneer Flights, Daring Missions, and Record-Setting Journeys (Women of Action)|
Author Karen Bush Gibson profiles of 26 women aviators – Harriet Quimby, Bessie Coleman, Louise Thaden, Amelia Earhart and Pancho Barnes, Jackie Cochran and more.
|Women Aviators: From Amelia Earhart to Sally Ride, Making History in Air and Space|
Great stories and history about the record breaking women aviators from the early days of flying to current times by Bernard Marck
West with the Night|
Beryl Markham’s autobiography is a true classic. Markham is known for setting an aviation record for a solo flight across the Atlantic from East to West-hence the title. She was also a bush pilot in Africa, sharing adventures with Blor Blixen and Denys Finch-Hatton of Out of Africa fame.
Straight on Till Morning: The Life of Beryl Markham|
by Mary S. Lovell. After a childhood in Africa untrammeled by convention and almost devoid of education, she went on to run successful racing stables and to achieve fame as a record-breaking aviator – flying the Atlantic from east to west – hence the title.
The Happy Bottom Riding Club: The Life and Times of Pancho Barnes|
by Lauren Kessler. Pancho Barnes lived a big, messy, colorful, unconventional life with three fortunes, four husbands, and countless lovers. She was a barnstormer, a racer, a cross-country flier, a Hollywood stunt pilot and a 99. She was, for a time, “the fastest woman on earth,” flying the fastest civilian airplane in the world.
Jackie Cochran: An Autobiography|
by Jacqueline Cochran. Cochran won numerous honors and set more distance, speed, and altitude records than any other woman aviator. She organized the WASP (Women’s Airforce Service Pilot) program in World War II and was the first woman to break the sound barrier. She was a phenomenon in flying and was truly a self-made woman.
Powder Puff Derby of 1929: The True Story of the First Women’s Cross-Country Air Race|
by Gene Nora Jessen. Tells the story of the first major female airplane race – nineteen women who set out from Santa Monica, California, in flimsy, propeller driven planes, with a mission-to be the first to cover the 2,759 mile course to Cleveland, Ohio. With skill and determination, the racers thrilled the nation and pioneered a new future and respect for female aviators. Among Gene Nora Jessen’s accomplishments – one of the thirteen women pilots (tagged the “Mercury 13”), demonstration pilot for the Beech Aircraft factory (always flying in a dress and high heels), and past president of the 99s.
Ladies! Rev up your engines! A Novel About the Girls in the Powder Puff Derby|
By Mardo Crane. Author Mardo Crane founded the Powder Puff Derby, also known as the All-Women’s Transcontinental Air Race (AWTAR) and flew in four of the derbies. She brings the voice of experience and authenticity to this novel. Mardo earned her pilot license in 1933, became a WASP test pilot, then an Air Force pilot. She joined the 99s in 1945 and was a long time member of the Los Angeles Chapter.
|Night Witches: The Amazing Story Of Russia’s Women Pilots in World War II|
Based on eyewitness accounts, Night Witches recounts stories of Soviet women who volunteered for combat pilot duty and the role they had in defeating the Nazis during World War II.
Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History|
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 fought for the chance to race against the men and won.
To Space and Back|
America’s first woman astronaut Sally Ride shares her personal experience of traveling into space and answers questions most frequently asked about a journey through space.