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Fly Girls

How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History

by Keith O'Brien

Fly Girls by Keith O'Brien X
Fly Girls by Keith O'Brien
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  • Published:
    Aug 2018, 352 pages

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  • Emily C. (Naples, FL)


    A Historical Gem
    As a retired teacher of high school American history, I thoroughly enjoyed this historical gem. This is an area of American history with which I was totally unfamiliar, except for the story of Amelia Earhart. Had this book existed 30 years ago when I was teaching, I would have made it required reading for my students.

    Keith O'Brien, a former reporter for the Boston Globe, has presented a thoroughly researched account of five of the daring American women who defied the odds to fly and race airplanes during the 1920's and 1930's. The stories of Amelia Earhart, Ruth Nicholas, Ruth Elder, Louise Thaden, and Florence Kingensmith are both riveting and inspirational.

    O'Brien did an exceptional job of researching the history of these early aviators by: examining letters; both published and unpublished memoirs; news articles from the period; and material from a variety of archives.

    Upset by the sexist rules that prevented women aviators from competing in any race against men, the women banded together to form the "Ninety-Nines" in order "to help women become true individuals industrially, mentally and spiritually."

    I highly recommend FLY GIRLS to anyone who is interested in early aviation, the extreme sexism of the period, and the dangers of early flight. All young women of today should read this book, if only to see how far the so-called Women's Movement has come thanks to the courage and persistence of these women.
  • Jana G. (Houston, TX)


    Fly Girls
    This book was a pleasure to read. The historical significance of women in flight is brought to life in Mr. O'Brien's book. The camaraderie among these women and their willingness to reach greater heights even among difficulty is inspirational. I did not know until I read Pilot's Wife and discovered that Anne Lindbergh was a navigator and pilot and was as much a pioneer as her husband that their might possibly be other women in flight besides Amelia Earhart. This is what ultimately led me to want to read this book and I was delighted to discover what I suspected was right. Thank you Mr. O'Brien for bringing these women to light and marking their contribution to aviation.
  • obsessedreader


    A Soaring Read!
    Keith O'Brien's Fly Girls is, to me, the best non-fiction book of 2018. This detailed account of five brave women who made aviation history is written in a smooth, lively way that keeps the reader involved.I learned an incredible amount, and my reading stayed on a very high (soaring) level.

    I was amazed at how many women met the innumerable challenges of aviation's earlier days. I had been clueless.

    Kevin O'Brien is a gifted author: he kept me enthralled throughout the book. I am grateful for what he has taught me. I will be buying copies for gifts.
  • Ann B. (Kernville, CA)


    A well grounded account of women pioneers of the air
    Veteran NPR journalist Keith O'Brien succeeds in bringing these female (and feminist) aviation pioneers to life. I very much enjoyed following the arc of narrative that O'Brien constructed using primary and secondary source materials, such as journals, news clips, letters, and such. This necessary approach (as all his characters were dead) and the clever hooks that closed each chapter remind me of Erik Larson's books and certainly Daniel James Brown's _Boys in the Boat_. This book should definitely appeal to fans of _Boys in the Boat_, for its similar focus on unsung, underdog sports pioneers and because it, too, is an excellent example of narrative nonfiction.
  • Charlene M. (Myrtle Beach, SC)


    Fly Girls
    Keith O'Brien has written an awesome book about a forgotten time in America's history. "Fly Girls" brought to life the struggle of women, not just women avatrixes, for equality; to be admired for their intelligence and fortitude; recognition; and tragedy of the early flying pioneers. I googled the fliers, plane types, plane manufacturers, wood vs metal, designs - the magical awakening of the airplane age. I consider "Fly Girls" one of the best books I have read.
  • Sara P. (Longview, WA)


    Fly Girls
    In the history of American aviation women had amazing contributions. There were many more than Earhart that attempted and accomplished firsts like flying across the continent; participating in airshows doing dangerous stunts successfully, and winning air races. Ruth Nichols who crashed, but lived in her attempt to cross the Atlantic was one of these female pilots. All were determined and brave and should be remembered.
  • Mary Jane D. (Arlington Heights, IL)


    Go Girls!
    Fly Girls is an excellent read and I highly recommend it. I knew a little about Amelia Earhart but never heard of any of the other brave and hard working women who also achieved notoriety at the time (1920's and 30's) for their accomplishments.I like Keith O'Brien's style of writing and he makes it a story that kept my attention and at times I couldn't put down. It was well researched and very timely in these days of gaining equality for women.
    I think it would be a good book club choice and generate great discussions of women's rights through the years.

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