Flying for Her Country


Flying for Her Country

The American and Soviet Women Military Pilots of World War II

Amy Goodpaster Strebe

146 pages


March 2009


$17.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

During the Second World War, women pilots were given the opportunity to fly military aircraft for the first time in history. In the United States, famed aviatrix Jacqueline Cochran formed the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program, where over one thousand women flyers ferried aircraft from factories to airbases throughout the United States and Canada from 1942 to 1944. The WASP operated from 110 facilities and flew more than sixty million miles in seventy-eight different types of aircraft, from the smallest trainers to the fastest fighters and the largest bombers. The WASP performed every duty inside the cockpit as their male counterparts, except combat, and thirty-eight women pilots gave their lives in the service of their country. Yet, notwithstanding their outward appearance as official members of the U.S. Army Air Forces, the WASP were considered civil servants during the war. Despite a highly publicized attempt to militarize in 1944, the women pilots would not be granted veteran status until 1977.

In the Soviet Union, Marina Raskova, Russia’s “Amelia Earhart,” famous for her historic Far East flight in 1938, formed the USSR’s first female aviation regiments that flew combat missions along the Eastern Front. A little over one thousand women flew a combined total of more than thirty thousand combat sorties, producing at least thirty Heroes of the Soviet Union. Included in their ranks were two fighter aces. More than fifty women pilots are believed to have been killed in action. Sharing both patriotism and a mutual love of aviation, these pioneering women flyers faced similar obstacles while challenging assumptions of male supremacy in wartime culture. Despite experiencing discrimination from male aircrews during the war, these intrepid airwomen ultimately earned their respect. The pilots’ exploits and their courageous story, told so convincingly here, continue to inspire future generations of women in aviation.


“In reading Flying for Her Country, I was humbly reminded of the debt of gratitude I owe to these courageous women pilots. They did not intentionally take to the skies with the purpose of pioneering new trails; they did it purely out of a sense of patriotism and duty. Luckily, for thousands like me, their skillful flying, powerful loyalty to country and their unmatched grace both in the sky and on the ground, successfully cleared the path for generations of women military aviators who continue to follow in their footsteps. In telling the story of these World War II heroes, Amy Goodpaster Strebe skillfully reminds us that women love their country too, and some of us choose to show it by wearing our nation’s uniform.”—Nicole M. E. Malachowski, F-15E Combat Pilot and F-16C/D Thunderbird Pilot

“Amy Goodpaster Strebe’s book is excellent . . . meticulously researched, well-written, and convincingly argued and documented.”—Air & Space

“I really enjoyed the book. It tells the true story of how women were involved in aviation during the war.”—General Chuck Yeager, General Chuck Yeager Foundation,

“One group of World War II participants that has been sorely overlooked is female military pilots. Amy Goodpaster Strebe has penned a fine history of women military pilots. Until now the role played by women in the air forces of the U.S. and the Soviet Union has gone largely unrecognized. Flying for Her Country goes a long way in correcting this oversight. Highly recommended.”—WWII History

Flying for Her Country is a great read! As one of the first Coast Guard female pilots, I have always been enthralled by the amazing achievements of the women who blazed the contrails of flying military aircraft during World War II. These are extraordinary tales of extraordinary women. We are proud to stand on their shoulders.”—Vice Admiral Vivien S. Crea, U.S. Coast Guard

“As a pilot myself, the daughter of a Navy fighter pilot, and the mother of a current Air Force pilot who happens to be female, I very much enjoyed Flying for Her Country. Ms. Strebe’s work is an engaging and important contribution to the history of aviation and women’s unfinished struggle to achieve some measure of equality in the field. Many women also yearn to know what it is to have ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth … put out my hand, and touched the face of God.’”—The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop and primate of The Episcopal Church