The Best Books On Female Pilots

The Books I Picked & Why

A Spitfire Girl: One of the World's Greatest Female Ata Ferry Pilots Tells Her Story

By Melody Foreman, Mary Ellis

A Spitfire Girl: One of the World's Greatest Female Ata Ferry Pilots Tells Her Story

Why this book?

There are several fascinating memoirs by ATA pilots including those by Diana Barnato Walker and the fittingly named Nancy Bird, but I was lucky enough to know Mary Ellis so her words speak most directly to me. A life recounted in sensible tones, reading this book it is easy to imagine you are settled into an armchair across from Mary, while at the same time realising that she would be much more comfortable in the cockpit of a Spitfire. By the end of the war she had delivered 400 Spitfires and flown 72 different types of aircraft. ‘Who needs love’, Ellis wrote, ‘when there is the ultimate thrill of speed, the sky, and the orgasmic experience of piloting the best fighter aircraft in the world?’ Enough said.


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Spitfire Women Of World War II

By Giles Whittell

Spitfire Women Of World War II

Why this book?

A highly readable history of the courageous female ‘ferry pilots' of the ATA who came from all over the world to help the Allied cause, vividly told through numerous interviews woven together. When first published, this book really helped to put female pilots back in to the Allied wartime story where they so firmly belong.


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Defending the Motherland: The Soviet Women Who Fought Hitler''s Aces

By Lyuba Vinogradova

Defending the Motherland: The Soviet Women Who Fought Hitler''s Aces

Why this book?

This is a gripping history of the Soviet female fighter, bomber and night bomber squadron pilots told through their interwoven biographies. These were the women who fought and died in the skies above Stalingrad and Kursk, and whose skills, as well as courage, astounded and terrified the Luftwaffe. Although invited to train and serve alongside their male comrades, the women were of course given uniforms and equipment designed for men, plenty of hostility, and a place, for those who survived, only at the back of the victory parades.


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Last Flight - Amelia Earhart's Flying Adventures

By Amelia Earhart

Last Flight - Amelia Earhart's Flying Adventures

Why this book?

There are several good biographies of Earhart by Mary S. Lovell and others, but worth also looking at is this compilation of the letters, diary entries and charts that Earhart sent back to her husband, bringing a striking immediacy to her final flight.


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Women Who Fly: Goddesses, Witches, Mystics, and Other Airborne Females

By Serenity Young

Women Who Fly: Goddesses, Witches, Mystics, and Other Airborne Females

Why this book?

This is a left-of-field choice, but when thinking about female fliers it is worth remembering the cultural baggage they inevitably carry with them. Historically, female flight whether by broom, wing, mental transcendence or in the cockpit of a Spitfire, has threatened the patriarchy while liberating women. Even today, ‘flighty’ women are still considered in negative terms. This book explores the power and prejudice around aerial females.


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