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Steve Sheinkin’s Born to Fly is a compelling read. Sheinkin recounts the exciting events of The Women’s Air Derby in 1929 with great skill, drawing the reader into the adventure, danger, and mystery that marked that air race. Early airplanes were quite dramatically unreliable. We are so far removed from the race that its outcome is not common knowledge which heightens the suspense of this account. It’s a page-turner. Through his profiles of the early lives of these women, the author not only sets the stage for the race but also provides a broader social context for the importance of the race. Born to Fly leaves no doubt that, even as these women faced and usually surmounted the existential challenges of flight in early airplanes, they faced the pernicious misogyny permeating society at the time which characterized these activities as unsuitable for women. I am not Sheinkin’s target audience, having read the book to preview it for my young granddaughter. She will, I am sure, enjoy it thoroughly. It will come as a surprise to her what barriers and prejudices those amazing pilots faced as women in that day and age, and may help her stand up to those that remain in her life. I highly recommend the book.
Two thumbs up. Amazed the book captured the camaraderie as well as the competitive aspects in a positive way. As a second generation air race pilot, it made me hear and feel the roar and rumble of the engines.
Also, learned who was the first woman to be on a Wheaties box.
An enjoyable read. Will be a Christmas gift to many friends and family.
Impressive research and smart to include Gene Nora Jessen and Pat Thaden Webb as sources. Pat Thaden Webb flagged off the 2004 75th anniversary celebration air races that to honored the 1929 race from California to Cleveland.
This book captures the spirit and historic import of this storied event in a fresh consumable positive way.
I was fascinated by the number of women who were so brave to attempt the challenge of flying. Their perseverance and obstacles they overcame, and always the threat of death. Amazing and wonderful . Real pioneers of the skies.
Reviewed in the United States on September 24, 2019
Sheinkin has done it again. His story like narration brings to life historical events readers will devour. We’ve all heard of Amelia Earhart and maybe Bessie Coleman. Here readers will get to know some incredibly brave and daring women of aviation. Their bravery went beyond the early and perilous days of flying to breaking the glass ceiling as we call it today for women. Women in the 20’s were considered delicate and frail, definitely not suited to handle an airplane. That was for big strong men. Women definitely should not work outside the home or God forbid, wear pants.
Born To Fly In August 1929, a talented and outspoken group of female aviators spearheaded women’s rights when they participated in an all-woman nine-day, cross-country air race that kicked off in California.
Quoting Henry Ford , “I pay our women well so they can dress attractively and get married.” The women were fighting centuries of bias. This aside, they were solely interested in becoming successful fliers. Changing public opinion of women’s capabilities was a secondary outcome. To name a few of the brave: Marvel Crosson, Amelia Earhart, Louise Thaden, Ruth Nichols, were among the 99 (nearly all white) licensed female pilots in 1929. Flying opportunities for women of color were even MORE sharply limited. (Only African American Bessie Coleman is mentioned in this account.)
Sheinkin is a master at storytelling where the facts are WELL researched and founded. This Women’s Air Derby was highly controversial which became even more so when a pilot was killed in a crash that may have been caused by someone tampering with her plane. Some wanted the women to fail so desperately to sabotage the planes.
Born to a Fly explores the 1929 race in detail, using the event to reveal the lives of many of the early female fliers.
The book includes a large number of period photographs and illustrations. and outstanding backmatter round out an engaging and enlightening historical novel.
Suspenseful, informative, exciting, tragic and uplifting. (Nonfiction. 11-16)
Reviewed in the United States on September 29, 2019
This is a fascinating account of the early days of aviation in the first decades of the 20th century, focused on the small percentage of female pilots who took to the skies as flying machines were first developed and competed in the first Women’s Air Derby of 1929.
Early women pilots faced typical challenges of this new technology - learning the physics of aviation as the field evolved, access to flying machines, physical danger, funding - as well as some more unique to women including a societal belief that women couldn’t make good pilots, family and parental resistance and dangerous (and sometimes fatal) problems with sabotaged equipment. Born To Fly tells the stories of many of the earliest female pilots, their struggles, their efforts to confront male chauvinism and their passion for flying.
I found this book well-written and detailed. It gives both historical insights into the period and a sense of the personalities and motivations of the young female pilots. I learned so much from this book! It would be an excellent read for students of early 20th century technology and transportation.
I discovered this book at a writers’ conference. It was recommended as a model for nonfiction. The details the author uncovered from a century ago were incredible.
In the first third you’ll meet fliers like Amelia Earhart, Marvel Crosson, Louise Thaden, and Elinor Smith as little girls. You’ll read about the kinds of things they did as kids, the things that shaped them into the women they’d become.
The second third follows them into the 1929 Air Derby, the first women’s race across the US. Women had just earned the right to vote in 1920, and now they were fighting to fly an airplane. The public believed women weren’t capable of flying, let alone doing it cross country.
The final third follows our heroines past the race and into their future. It’s the end to each of their stories. The back matter will show you the author’s source notes and photo credits. BORN TO FLY is well done from the start to the finish line!
Reviewed in the United States on November 25, 2019
I might be a little older than the target audience, but Sheinkin has a way of creating drama and suspense in every story he tells that I adore. I want every young girl and boy to read this story to learn about what you can accomplish when you have passion, bravery and grit. The women in this story are amazing and Sheinkin tells their tale amazingly well. I didn’t want to put the book down!
Reviewed in the United States on November 25, 2019
What a terrific story! This is an amazing account of American aviation history. A must read adventure that celebrates the triumphs of early women aviators, Born to Fly makes one appreciate the obstacles that have been overcome in advancing women in aviation.