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Summary and book reviews of The Women with Silver Wings by Katherine Sharp Landdeck

The Women with Silver Wings

The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II

by Katherine Sharp Landdeck

The Women with Silver Wings by Katherine Sharp Landdeck X
The Women with Silver Wings by Katherine Sharp Landdeck
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    Apr 21, 2020, 464 pages

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About this Book

Book Summary

The thrilling true story of the daring female aviators who helped the United States win World War II--only to be forgotten by the country they served.

When Japanese planes executed a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Cornelia Fort was already in the air. At twenty-two, Cornelia had escaped Nashville's debutante scene for a fresh start as a flight instructor in Hawaii. She and her student were in the middle of their lesson when the bombs began to fall, and they barely made it back to ground that morning. Still, when the U.S. Army Air Forces put out a call for women pilots to aid the war effort, Cornelia was one of the first to respond. She became one of just over 1,100 women from across the nation to make it through the Army's rigorous selection process and earn her silver wings.

In The Women with Silver Wings, historian Katherine Sharp Landdeck introduces us to these young women as they meet even-tempered, methodical Nancy Love and demanding visionary Jacqueline Cochran, the trailblazing pilots who first envisioned sending American women into the air, and whose rivalry would define the Women Airforce Service Pilots. For women like Cornelia, it was a chance to serve their country--and to prove that women aviators were just as skilled and able as men.

While not authorized to serve in combat, the WASP helped train male pilots for service abroad and ferried bombers and pursuits across the country. Thirty-eight of them would not survive the war. But even taking into account these tragic losses, Love and Cochran's social experiment seemed to be a resounding success--until, with the tides of war turning and fewer male pilots needed in Europe, Congress clipped the women's wings. The program was disbanded, the women sent home. But the bonds they'd forged never failed, and over the next few decades, they came together to fight for recognition as the military veterans they were--and for their place in history.

Chapter One
Airminded

Only a few short weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Teresa James stood on the freezing platform of Pittsburgh's Union Station saying goodbye to the love of her life. They were an attractive couple: Teresa a pretty, curly-haired brunette with brown eyes and a ready smile, and George—who went by Dink—looking so handsome and clean-cut in his new uniform, with his cropped hair and square jaw. The couple had been preparing for this moment ever since America's entry into the war, but even so, they hated that the time for goodbye had come so soon.

Both Teresa and Dink had spent years anxiously following the news, waiting for the moment when their country might finally join the fight. They were children of European immigrants—Teresa's mother was from Ireland and Dink's was from Hungary—and perhaps, as a result, they took events overseas personally. Dink was a well-qualified pilot with 2,100 hours of flying time, and the Army's Air Transport ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Before reading The Women With Silver Wings, what did you know about women's contributions to World War II? Were you familiar with the WASP?
  2. The WASP was the brainchild of two trailblazing pilots, Jacqueline Cochran and Nancy Harkness Love. What did they have in common? What set them apart?
  3. Nancy and Jackie had strict standards for WASP applicants, including significant flight time, a high level of educational attainment, and even—at least for Jackie's program—a conventionally attractive appearance. Why were they so insistent on maintaining these standards, which were higher than those for men?
  4. The women of the WASP grew up in a culture obsessed with flight, in which the fastest, most daring pilots—including women like...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A generous selection of high-quality photographs and Landdeck's own experience as a licensed pilot enrich the narrative, capturing the joy of flying and the unique sense of freedom and independence these women would remember for the rest of their lives. This colorful history soars.

Kirkus Reviews
A compelling history that brings forgotten heroes back in the spotlight.

Library Journal (starred review)
A must-read for those interested in women's and World War II history.

Reader Reviews

Charlene M. (Myrtle Beach, SC)

The Woman with Silver Wings
Katherine Sharp Landdeck's book is a history of women in aviation just before and during WWII. A comprehensive look into the pioneering women fliers. A detailed account of the lives, loves, abilities, struggles to become women avaitrixes. A ...   Read More

Diane T. (Slingerlands, NY)

Silver Wings on Women's Lapels
Katherine Sharp Landdeck's debut book, The Women With Silver Wings", delves into the mostly unknown world of women pilots and their immense contributions, ferrying air crafts from manufacturers to drop off airports, during WW II. We are all familiar ...   Read More

Roberta W. (Los Ranchos, NM)

You Taught Us How to Fly
When the United States entered World War II it had been only twenty years since American women were allowed to vote. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that in 1942 the male power structure, especially that of the Army Air Force, believed that ...   Read More

Deborah H. (West Chicago, IL)

Women take flight.
I am so appreciative that The Women With Silver Wings has come to be. This true account of female pilots and the role they played as Women Airforce Service Pilots in World War II gives us an in-depth look at these truly courageous women. It was ...   Read More

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