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Publisher's Summary

Between the world wars, no sport was more popular, or more dangerous, than airplane racing. Thousands of fans flocked to multi-day events, and cities vied with one another to host them. The pilots themselves were hailed as dashing heroes who cheerfully stared death in the face. Well, the men were hailed. Female pilots were more often ridiculed than praised for what the press portrayed as silly efforts to horn in on a manly, and deadly, pursuit.

Fly Girls recounts how a cadre of women banded together to break the original glass ceiling: the entrenched prejudice that conspired to keep them out of the sky.

O'Brien weaves together the stories of five remarkable women: Florence Klingensmith, a high school dropout who worked for a dry cleaner in Fargo, North Dakota; Ruth Elder, an Alabama divorcee; Amelia Earhart, the most famous, but not necessarily the most skilled; Ruth Nichols, who chafed at the constraints of her blue blood family's expectations; and Louise Thaden, the mother of two young kids who got her start selling coal in Wichita. Together, they fought for the chance to race against the men - and in 1936 one of them would triumph in the toughest race of all.

©2018 Keith O'Brien (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about Fly Girls

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Edifying

I enjoyed reading this book about five women pioneers of aviation. They are as follows: Louise McPhetridge Thaden (1905-1979) first female to win the Bendix Trophy. Ruth Rowland Nichols (1901-1960) held simultaneous world records for speed, altitude and distance. Ruth Elder (1902-1977) was an actress. Elder held many speed and distance records. Florence Klingensmith (1904-1933) was the first women to have a pilot’s license in North Dakota. She did lots of racing derbies and set speed records. Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) Earhart is the most well known of the early aviators. She was first women to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and the first women to fly from Oakland to Hawaii in 1935. She set many records in her career. All these women were founding members of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots formed in 1929 by ninety-nine women. Earhart was the first president.

I have met a number of these early women aviators and have an interest in flying. I was taught to fly a piper cub by Pancho Barnes (1901-1975) in Muroc, CA in the late 1940s. Pancho was also a founding member of the Ninety-nines. Pancho started setting records in the 1920s. I have read a few stories about these women, but, unfortunately, there is not much available. I am so glad that Keith O’Brien wrote this book about these five pioneers of aviation. O’Brien created lots of suspense about flying, but I wished he had been able to bring these women to life more vividly. The book is packed with information about the early days of flying and the records these women broke.

The book is just over twelve hours. Erin Bennett does a good job narrating the book. Bennett is an actress, voice over artist and award-winning audiobook narrator. Bennett has won multiple Earphone Awards.



81 people found this helpful

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For women, and dads

I think that to the casual book lover you might be inclined to overlook this book if you are not (a) female or (b) into aviation. That would be a mistake. I put myself into both categories, but still I think that this story is appealing because it is a story of grit. This book details a time when flying was dangerous and women were expected to look and behave in certain ways. The women of this story were courageous on so many fronts -- that they were willing to put themselves out there and try to follow their own paths, as well as risk their lives to do it. It is full of period details, but not weighed down with them so that it feels like a history lesson. I think the pace of the action is perfect; the book spans a few years in the first parts, and then glides ahead over a greater timespan so that you know how the women end up. They are all so different, but a modern person -- man or woman -- will recognize something of themselves in each character.
N.B. I was given this book by my father, a life-long aviation enthusiast, who dragged us all around to airshows during my childhood. I read the paper version, which has beautiful pictures of the women, and have just purchased the audio version for my husband on his commute so we can talk about it.

89 people found this helpful

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A great aviation story

I've read most of the aviation titles on audible. I'm a sucker for aviation history, especially its Golden Age. naturally after some time you end up reading about the same material over and over again. So its refreshing to come across a title that presents something which isn't often writen about.
This is not just a great story about women in aviation and their struggle to be respected as equals, but is a rare view into the often forgotten era of the great air races and the Thompson and bendix Trophies. Its a great read.

14 people found this helpful

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Great stories, exceptional narration!

Wonderful story of remarkable women during aviations early, and often spectacular era. outstanding narration conveying just the right tone to these amazing aviators.

9 people found this helpful

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Great stories, too much minutia

These women have amazing stories which needed to be told. The level of details however made it hard to listen to. I spent a distracting amount of time waiting for the author to get to the point. No detail was too irrelevant to include. This took me out of the story to the point where I nearly quit several times. With a better editor, this could have been a slam dunk. As is, I hesitate to recommend it to others.

7 people found this helpful

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Should be mandatory reading for all 99s

Such rich history, and so inspiring and captivating. You'll rage a little inside at times, cheer at other times, and be moved to tears. You'll want more, and you will dare to imagine your place in that more. Fly on.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting History

I never knew that a woman pilot had such trouble in the '20 and'30s and how we pushed down such great women. Good Read.

6 people found this helpful

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Great

I find it unbelievable how badly the women where treated, my wife told me that it is still bad. My pointed out how men attempt to control women’s health through legislation instead of let women make their own decisions. She said sometimes other women are women’s sorest enemy, that was shown in the book. I was raised in family that had professional women, female college graduates, and business owners. As a 70 year old man I am disturbed by continually bias against women and minorities. I guess we will never learn.

5 people found this helpful

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Great book

I read a lot of aviation history and this is well done. It includes much on the early years of aviation with emphasis on the women pilots.

5 people found this helpful

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Part of forgotten history brought to light

I enjoyed learning about these ladies, we all know about Amelia but there were so many other women fliers too. The way women are treated always gets my dander up and this was no exception ugh these idiot men!
I was horrified by how many of these women died horrible deaths but I'm sure the men died too in these early airplanes but of course the women dying was more reported because it "proved" that women shouldn't be flying.

I did feel it bogged a little after the half way point but was still an interesting story and I am glad I learned more about these women!

Erin Bennett's narration was well done.

3 1/2 stars

4 people found this helpful