Flying High: Fearless Female Aviators

by Melleny T.

When I was in the seventh grade, I chose to be Amelia Earhart for Night of the Notables. Earhart’s entire story fascinated me – her courage, the obstacles she encountered, and the mystery surrounding her disappearance.

I may or may not have worn that aviator cap more often than was strictly necessary.

Even now, I love coming across stories that include pioneers in the field of aviation, particularly those women who broke through boundaries and defied stereotypes to make their mark in such a dangerous field. So, in honor of Women’s History Month, I’m sharing some great books that include fearless female fliers of the past, both real and fictional.

Women Aviators cover

Women Aviators: 26 Stories of Pioneer Flights, Daring Missions, and Record-Setting Journeys by Karen Bush Gibson

Start here for a great overview of a wide assortment of female fliers with this collection that includes Amelia Earhart, of course, but also lesser-known but no less important aviators. The scope ranges from the first days of aviation through the Cold War.

Black Dove White Raven coverBlack Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

If you’re looking for books about female pilots, especially female pilots during World War II, it’s hard to not notice the author Elizabeth Wein popping up. She wrote the incredibly powerful Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, both about young female auxiliary pilots captured in Europe. I highly recommend them both. But you also shouldn’t miss Black Dove, White Raven, which will introduce you to a less thoroughly covered setting – Ethiopia in the 1930s – but with equal tenderness and authenticity.

Game of Love and Death cover

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

While aviation isn’t the the main plot point of this story (it’s actually about personified Love and Death making wagers with the lives of young people), one of said young people is an African-American girl who longs to become a pilot in Depression-era Seattle. This becomes an important element as Love and Death battle for her heart and soul.

You may have noticed that all the titles on this list come from our Teen collection, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t (or shouldn’t) read them. I highly encourage you to try something YA if you’re looking for a change of pace.

These books are just the tip of the iceberg on this topic. Leave a comment below with other titles you’ve come across, and let me know if you’re interested in similar lists with books from Sno-Isle’s adult and/or children’s collections.

Side note: I have mixed feelings about the term ‘aviatrix.’ While I do appreciate that it sounds like some kind of fierce flying dinosaur, I’m not a fan of female versions of words that aren’t inherently male to begin with. (Don’t get me started on ‘comedienne.’)

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2 responses to “Flying High: Fearless Female Aviators”

  1. I think this list is probably incomplete without West With the Night, Beryl Markham‘s autobiography, or at least Paula McLain‘s novel about her, Circling the Sun.

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