“O’Brien’s prose reverberates with fiery crashes, then stings with the tragedy of lives lost in the cockpit and sometimes, equally heartbreaking, on the ground.” —New York Times Book Review
One of Time Magazine’s Best Books of the Summer
The untold story of five women who fought to compete against men in the high-stakes national air races of the 1920s and 1930s — and won
In 1928, less than a dozen American women had a government-issued pilot’s license, making the few women who flew planes true radicals. Fly Girls tells that story, their story—the story of women fighting for the right to fly airplanes, winning the right to race them, and then beating the men in one of the most dangerous air races of them all. It was, for the female pilots, a stunning upset and one that proved what the women had known all along: They were just as good as the male pilots, maybe better. They belonged.
Between the world wars, no sport was more popular, or more dangerous, than airplane racing. Thousands of fans flocked to multi‑day events, and cities vied with one another to host them. The pilots themselves were hailed as dashing heroes who cheerfully stared death in the face. Well, the men were hailed. Female pilots were more often ridiculed than praised for what the press portrayed as silly efforts to horn in on a manly, and deadly, pursuit. Fly Girls recounts how a cadre of women banded together to break the original glass ceiling: the entrenched prejudice that conspired to keep them out of the sky.Continue reading