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- author Jackie French

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Review: Skyward: The Story of Female Pilots in WW2

Skyward: The Story of Female Pilots in WW2 is the story of women in aviation. 

It is built around three girls with a dream of becoming female pilots. 

When Hazel, a Chinese-American first saw the Curtis Jenny, she told her father that she would fly one in the future.

Marlene, in Great Britain, took her first ride in a plane with her brother. At the start of WW2, she joined the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary).

Lilya saw her first plane when it crashed on the outskirts of a town in Russia. That night she told her parents she was going to be a pilot. They laughed, for she spent all her time drawing and dreaming. When war came, she was given the chance to fly by the most famous aviatrix in the Soviet Union, Marina Raskova.

As there weren’t enough male pilots to fly the shifts needed during WW2, a call-out came for females to join the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots), a civilian group of the women’s aviation unit. They were inundated with volunteers.

The success of female pilots created a climate of sexism and antipathy against the women who were accused of stealing men’s jobs. In actual fact, their extreme bravery saw them take on the dangerous roles piloting planes through flight patterns men refused. This book reveals an era in aviation history that glows in the light of women’s heroic choices at a time of dire need.

Well-researched, beautifully designed and presented using the artistic style of the war years, we witness the stout-heartedness of women who answered the call. Through elegant and detailed illustrations, the contrasts in history, with reference to women and how they were measured, are exposed.

We are gifted with clear depictions of clothing styles of the early 1940s, the medical and physical demands made on candidates during training and preparation for their specific roles, and fantastic images of the various aircraft, tanks, machinery and equipment.

The focus of the book is directed at the important role women played in aviation. Their courage and passion during war time to contribute what they knew they could do equally as well as men, is reflected in every scene. The pages are filled with gorgeous coloured illustrations on the progress of women’s roles at that time. These are complemented by informative text that relays the hardships and ridicule they endured trying to get into a domain that was governed by and for men.

Skyward… comes highly recommended for readers with interest in aviation history, women’s fight for rights and equality, or the unknown facts about women and aviation.

Title: Skyward: The Story of Female Pilots in WW2
Author/Illustrator: Sally Deng
Publisher: Walker Books,  $27.99
Publication Date: September 2018
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781911171515
For ages:  7+
Type: Non Fiction