Wings: A Novel of World War ll Flygirls

Written by Karl Friedrich
Review by Wisteria Leigh

Sally Ketchum, a poor farmer’s daughter, has little opportunity until one day she falls in love with a pilot named Tex.  When he teaches her to fly they become barnstormers, forging a future together.  Sally’s world crashes when Tex, a competent pilot, is killed instantly in a bizarre accident.

World War II presents a plethora of new opportunities for women. Men recruited for active duty created jobs that were normally held by men. Sally learns about a new pilot school, a place where women will be trained to fly the military’s newest and most powerful planes.  She immediately applies and is accepted.  The program is commonly known as WASP, an acronym for Women Airforce Service Pilots.

Not everyone is happy with this experimental program. Many believe flying and the military is no place for “skirts”. However, women pilots training at the Avenger school soon surprise the pundits as they prove their prowess, tenacity and agility.

Mr. Waterman, a Washington lawyer, is hell bent on closing down the WASP program. One of the best pilots, Sally demonstrates exceptional talent; however, a series of mishaps draws a deadly focus on her.  When she voices her candid opinion to Mr. Waterman, she becomes his sole target. This begins his relentless pursuit to close the WASP program and destroy Sally Ketchum.

The author skillfully sets the stage for a shocking ending as he embeds a discerning subplot. The unexpected twist provides anxious drama with disturbing developments up to the final chapter.  The novel illuminates the dedicated and dangerous service that women assumed in the military during wartime.  Karl Friedrich’s ability to see history through a woman’s eyes is insightful. His novel is a welcome addition to the historical novels depicting the marginalized position of women during America’s wars.