3 out of 4 stars
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Can you imagine that feeling of freedom when floating above the clouds watching the marvelous sunshine reflecting from the white puffy clouds that look like cotton candy? Or the strength of g-powers pushing you to the back of your seat while performing loops in the air? Or feeling the agony when facing a mighty thunderstorm and having no choice but to land on a bumpy cornfield? The truth is, I have never done anything other than attended flights in big passenger planes, and I seriously doubt that I was ever up for more. Where the Wings Grow by Irv Broughton tells the stories of different kinds of women. Regardless of my cautious personality, this book allowed me to skydive headfirst into the aviation world together with this fabulous bunch of ladies.
Where the Wings Grow is a collection of interviews about pioneering women in aviation. The life stories of these strong-willed, courageous, kind women are nothing less than inspiring. Over the decades, the author has interviewed 29 women, such as pioneering barnstormer Dorothy Hester Stenzel or air racer Fran Bera. Not to forget Emily Howell Warner, who was the first female airline pilot in the U.S. The author places the questions and lets the women do the talking. We get to hear how they first got into flying and how they became professionals. These stories are stories of determination, astonishing survival, hilarious coincidences and, much more. Several of these women have also been the earlier members of The Ninety-Nines, which today operates as an international organization for women pilots.
This book’s value in documenting aviation history is undoubtedly priceless. However, my favorite feature of Where the Wings Grow lies elsewhere. I was utterly amazed by the interviewing skills of the author. Somehow he managed to be encouraging and witty at once. He would place his questions, step back and let the personalities of these adorable women shine. Many of these ladies had a fabulous sense of humor, which made the stories fun to read. Every woman had their own intriguing story to tell. One of my favorites was Ellen Paneok, who had some incredible experiences of bush piloting in Alaska. One time she had to perform a forced landing, and as a result, she found herself sitting knee-deep in swamp water surrounded by clouds of bloodthirsty mosquitos. Her storytelling was so smooth that I couldn’t help but laugh!
I have only one complaint referring to Where the Wings Grow. Since I was not familiar with aviation history, I had to build the whole picture by picking bits and pieces of information from here and there while reading the interviews. I would have hoped for a summary of the main facts of aviation history. With its 576 pages, this book was as thick as a brick. I realize a summary would have added even more to its length. However, I did not once feel that there were too many pages. Quite the opposite, I enjoyed every bit of it and was slightly disappointed to reach the end.
I am happy to reward this book with a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. I would have really wanted to grant a full score. However, I was obliged to deduct one star due to the vast amount of unfortunate small typos. Even so, these mistakes did not affect my enjoyment of reading in any way. Irv Broughton did a splendid job in putting these stories together. This book honors the life work of the pioneering women in aviation history. It also proves that any dream can come true with a certain amount of willpower and a pioneering spirit.
If you are interested in aviation history, this book is for you! Also, everyone who enjoys biographies might find this book likable. Do jump into the plane and accompany these amazing flying women in making loops and enjoy the feeling of freedom while flying towards the sunset!
Where the Wings Grow
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