Winning My Wings: A Woman Air Force Service Pilot in World War II, by Marion Stegeman Hodgson, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Md., 1996, $29.95

Ferry work is hardly one of aviation’s glamour jobs. Moving planes from factory to base or doing post-repair check-out flights may not be as exciting as tangling with half a dozen Japanese Zeros over “the Slot” at Guadalcanal, but it’s the kind of run-of-the-mill logistics work that gives the men at the front the tools they need.

In 1943, the U.S. Army Air Forces (successor to the U.S. Army Air Corps) began training women to ferry aircraft, thus freeing up thousands of men for combat duty. Winning My Wings is Marion Stegeman Hodgson’s story of how she became a ferry pilot. She tells her story through a series of letters to family and friends, pulled together by a compelling narrative.

Along the road to becoming a Woman Air Force Service pilot (WASP), Hodgson shares the story of her romance with a wounded Marine pilot and scores of
vignettes of her experiences as a ferry pilot.

Thirty-eight WASPs were killed during their training and active duty service. Hodgson trained with several of the women who died, and her grief at their loss comes through loud and clear in her letters and descriptions.

In 1944, at the height of the war effort, the Army Air Forces slowed WASP training and eventually eliminated the program altogether. Hodgson’s flying career begins to wind down just as her romance becomes a permanent affair.

Winning My Wings is a gem that should not be missed.

Mark W. McKellar