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Sky Girls

The True Story of the First Women's Cross-Country Air Race
Narrated by: Andrea Gallo
Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
Categories: History, American
4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The inspiring, true story of the first female pilots taking their rightful place in the exciting world of aviation. 

In 1929, 19 gutsy women blazed out of the darkness by setting out from California in propeller-driven planes, each competing to be the winner of the first female cross-country air race. The hazards were many, from disastrous weather to possible sabotage, but by facing the dangers with skill and determination, the racers thrilled the nation and pioneered a new future for female pilots and women's rights.

©2012, 2018 Gene Nora Jessen (P)2018 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"This is not just an excellent story of female pilots at the beginning of the 20th century, but a stirring history of the early years of aviation." (Booklist)
 

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Sky Girls it isn't

I was really excited to read this book, especially since its Audible release date came just weeks after "Fly Girls", which is truly excellent. In Fly Girls the narrative follows 5 femaile aviation pioneers during a 10 yer period from 1927 to 1937. And in that book the 1929 Powder Puff derby is one of the key points. Judging by the description of Sky Girls it seemed like it would be focusing in on this race in particular and offer a great companion book to Fly Girls.But thats not exactly the case.

First of all even though this title clocks in at a little more then 10 hours, the actual narrative ends a few minutes short of 7 hours and the last 3 hours are dedicated to an epilogue and an afterword. These 'added bonuses' first wrap up the personal stories of the women involved and then offers a historical survey of women involved in aviation. This is the weakest part of this book because all of the women aviators mentioned are presented in a very one dimensional 'story headline' type of way. We never get much sense for them as people, and those with greater knowledge of aviation history know that many of these individuals have incredible human stories and depths of character. Their triumps are quickly mentioned and their tragedies generally avoided. Had those parts of the book been packaged as a "Beginner's Guide to Women in Aviation" this would have made sense, but instead we are rushed thru this incredible story of the derby and then served up 3 hours of very thin history.

And then there is the matter of performance. The narrator is generally OK, though her attempts at doing German and Australian accents are completely laughable. What makes the performance so hard to listen to are very unnatural pauses between phrases. This was no doubt done in editing and is possibly done as a noise gate to eliminate unwnted sounds, but for the first few hours (until one gets used to it) it can be painful to listen to. Its a constant stop and go. The recording was done in 2018, haven't we figured out the technical side of audiobooks by now?
Finally there is one small thing about the performance that truly blew my mind. For a significant part of the story itself, the narrative is set against the backdrop of other aviation events taking place at the same time. One of them is the 1929 around the world flight of the airship Graf Zeppelin. Thus this 'Z' word is mentioned a few dozen times. It seems that the narrator is under the impression this is meant to be pronounced as Zeppeleen, with a strong accent on 'leen'. Huh? How is this possible? Has she lived her life under the impression that Stairway to Heaven was recorded by those 4 English guys from Led ZeppeLEEN? I know that pronouncing foreign words can be a challenge, but this one shouldn't be. And just when I was completely boggled by there is a moment when she reads something like "The Graf ZeppeLEEN and its successor the zeppelin Hindenburg". A-HA.. so she has heard the word before! I don't mean to go off on this tangent but its one of the strangest things I've come accross after reading hundreds and hundreds of audiobooks.

Still I had to give it 4 Stars after all, because any title that is dedicated to the often ignored role of pioneering female aviators should be respected in its own right. part from the above comments its a fine book and I'm glad it exists.