Skyward

The Story of Female Pilots in WWII

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review

Hazel, growing up in the 1920s and 30s in San Francisco, is taken to the local airfield every Saturday by her aircraft-mad father, who plants the seed in her mind that she might one day be able to fly a plane. In England, Marlene gets the bug for flying from her brother, and, in Russia, Lilya begins a lifetime love of flying when an aircraft crash lands in a field near her house.

Yet, when World War Two starts in 1939, governments were reluctant to let women pilot planes, even though there weren’t enough male pilots to go around. Finally, the US, British and Russian governments all instigated programmes that allowed women to fly in the war, and Hazel, Marlene and Lilya are relocated for training, learning how to pilot a variety of different aircraft and fly at night.

This slightly fictionalised version of the experiences of female pilots in World War Two is a fascinating read in terms of untold history – especially the heroic women of colour, who were flying life-threatening missions as well as combating racism on the ground. 

It's also an inspiring and heartwarming story of the close bonds pioneer female pilots formed with each other at a pivotal moment in history. Brilliant.

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