In case you haven’t already marked your calendars, October 13 is “Girls in Aviation Day”! We’re celebrating by combing through the shelves for a list of wonderful books about female aviators—women who soared so high, no glass ceiling could contain them. Fasten your seatbelts, stow your tray tables, and take flight with one of these great reads.
6 Books to Read on Girls in Aviation Day
It’s 1927. Charles Lindberg has completed the first trans-Atlantic flight, and aviatrixes across the globe are determined to be the first to do the same. Three determined women—the daughter of an English earl, a glamorous socialite, and a New York pageant queen who used her winnings for flying lessons—vie to make their mark on history in this captivating novel inspired by true events.
Barnstormers were the acrobats of the skies, and the precursor to today’s air shows. In Susan Crandall’s poignant novel, three daring pilots in the “flying circus” have formed a makeshift family. But Cora Rose, Gil and Henry find their bond endangered when the secrets in their pasts threaten to reappear over the horizon.
When we think “Lindbergh,” we’re usually picturing Charles and not his wife. But Anne Morrow Lindbergh wasn’t just an ornament for the most famous aviator of the 1920s—she was the first licensed glider pilot in the country, with a raft of achievements to her name. In this novel, perfect for fans of THE PARIS WIFE, Anne shares her story of love, heartbreak, and a search for open sky of her own.
Anne Morrow always stood in the shadows of those around her, but when she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic, the famous aviator sees a kindred sprit, a fellow adventurer. Married in a headline-making wedding, her fairy-tale life brings heartbreak and hardships, and ultimately pushes her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence.
If nonfiction’s more your speed, FLY GIRLS will take you where you want to go. This is the HIDDEN FIGURES of between-the-wars airplane racing, a cutthroat sport that enthralled audiences across the U.S. In addition to some storied aviatrixes you may not know, this group features the one we all know: Amelia Earhart herself. She may have won the race to history, but these other talented women are ready to be rediscovered.
From scouting elephants from the air to becoming the first woman to complete an east-to-west trans-Atlantic flight, Beryl Markham lived a life that seems made for movies. Not only did she have extraordinary adventures, but she recorded them in a memoir so beautifully, compellingly written that Hemingway told his editor (Maxwell Perkins, that is) that “I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer.”
If the first responsibility of a memoirist is to lead a life worth writing about, then Beryl Markham succeeded beyond all measure. Her life of adventure and beauty included living in East Africa as an adventurer, a racehorse trainer, and an aviatrix―she became the first woman to fly solo east to west across the Atlantic. If you’re a fan of Paula McLain’s novel, CIRCLING THE SUN, we think you’ll like Markham's memoir, too.
If you’re curious about Beryl Markham but want to stick to fiction, Paula McLain has you covered. Her novel about Markham includes some of the flying, of course, but spends most of its time in Africa exploring Beryl’s wild child roots, her bohemian upbringing and her role in a dramatic love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen (better known as Isak Dinesen, author of OUT OF AFRICA). You’ll be ready to quit your day job and strike out as a professional adventurer after you finish this one.
Set in Kenya in the 1920s, this captivating novel illustrates the life of Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator who becomes caught in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who wrote the classic memoir OUT OF AFRICA under the pen name Isak Dinesen.