Women, airplanes and war are the premise for Karl Friedrich’s WINGS: A NOVEL OF WORLD WAR II FLYGIRLS, which could have been subtitled “sassy skirts take on D.C. bureaucrats for the chance to fly military aircraft for the war effort.” Friedrich’s lead character, Sally Ketchum is a somewhat clichéd backwoods, dirt poor farm girl who traded that life for one of adventure when she met a young pilot who taught her to fly both literally and figuratively. After his tragic death in a flying accident she volunteers for the “WASP” program (Women’s Airforce Service Pilots). She finds herself at the school where she will learn to fly military aircraft –to ferry them to bases, etc. and free up military pilots for combat.
The aptly named “Avenger Field ” program in Texas is tough and is complicated by a Congressional “spy” who seems to dislike Sally in particular and female pilots in general. He is looking for problems and seems bent on closing down the WASP program.
With this conflict simmering, Frienderich who based his novel on real-life stories of WWII flygirls gives the reader a massive helping of the long hours, tough classroom and flying conditions experienced by the women in the program. He also adds a dash of romance, mystery and history to his book pulling in historic figures as well as pertinent war information.
It’s an easy and interesting read and if it is true that this will be a series, a TV mini-series seems probable as well. Entertaining with believable characters (perhaps just a bit too black and white in terms of the good vs. bad guys) but a delicious slice of history for anyone interested in aviation.