The Spitfire Girls

Written by Soraya M. Lane
Review by Monica E. Spence

When May is invited to establish a contingent of British women flyers for the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1939, she knows it won’t be easy. How many women are willing to risk everything tangling with the German Luftwaffe pilots lurking in the clouds above England? But many women clamor to be a part of the team. By shuttling new aircraft to bases around England and retrieving damaged planes for repair, they liberate male pilots for combat missions. Despite her training and competence, pretty, petite Ruby doubts herself at every turn. Can she truly fly a war plane without the support of her flier fiancé? Lizzie, an audacious American aviatrix, is asked by the President and Eleanor Roosevelt to go to England to see how the women’s air shuttle unit is run.

The friction amongst the women fliers begins following Lizzie’s arrival. While May works to keep a diverse group of women safe and focused on their mission, Lizzie shows off her piloting talents, and Ruby hides her insecurities. Women pilot everything from Spitfires to transports, but when an opportunity to fly bombers is presented, the women are challenged to learn to fly the huge aircraft and compete for the coveted position of the first woman to fly the beast.

I loved this book, a fictionalized story based on the historical British and American women pilots of the ATA and its American counterpart, the WASP (the Women Airforce Service Pilots). The terrible losses, fears for loved ones at the front and friction between the women and their male superiors, and the fight for equal pay for the women pilots remind us why and how our courageous foremothers proved themselves to be a vital part of the Greatest Generation. Highly recommended.