Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Those Wonderful Women in Their Flying Machines: The Unknown Heroines of World War II, Sally Van Wagenen Keil brings to life the history of early twentieth century flight, beginning with the Wright brothers and leading artfully to the history of women pilots in the United States during World War II. Her collective biography is divided into sixteen chapters and an epilogue. The book also contains an author’s note, photographs from World War II, a thorough index, and an extensive appendix of the “Final Report on Women Pilots Program,” a report submitted to the commanding general of the Army Air Forces by Jacqueline Cochran, the director of women pilots.

A timeline begins with Orville and Wilbur Wright’s successful flight on December 17, 1903, leads through Amelia Earhart’s late 1920’s and early 1930’s flights, and then concludes with eighteen months in England with Emily Chapin, who was an American pilot and third officer in the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). Chapin returned to the United States to attend Cochran’s women’s pilots training school at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, and Keil traces the events of the previous two years in the United States and leads logically to Chapin’s graduation from flight school on December 7, 1944—thirteen days before the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs) were deactivated by government order. The epilogue jumps to 1972 and the thirtieth reunion of the women from Avenger Field....

(The entire section is 521 words.)