BOOK REVIEW: THE WOMAN IN THE WING
This is a fictional story but has a storyline that no doubt occurred many times during World War II wherever military bases and/or factories were located where women ferried airplanes to areas of the United States where they were needed, or worked in a factory to help produce our nations airplanes. It is a story depicting how hard the women worked and the prejudice of many types they endured. Far too many felt women should not fly and should not work in a factory producing airplanes or weapons. The factory work was really mandated with the military taking most of the available and able-bodied men. This group of women was known as the “WASP” which stood for “Women Airforce Service Pilots.” Their steady and valuable effort to help build airplanes, ships, and various other weapons and machinery greatly enhanced the war effort.
The Women in the Wing tells the story of several women that volunteered their time and low-paying service to the WASP and the defense plants around the nation, in this story mostly the mid-west. Charlotte Mercer loved to fly but she had to fight her father first to convince him that she belonged in a cockpit to fly to help her nations war effort. Charlotte’s friend, Maxine, also wanted to fly and eventually they both talked their families into letting that occur. Their trek began when they appeared before the training commander at the Douglas Aircraft Factory where they given a hard interview with the woman in charge. Their past flying experience got them accepted into the training program. A male officer, Major Deavers, had the final say as to who got their WASP wings after training but when he interviewed Charlotte (Char) he told her he would not allow her to receive her wings unless she went to bed with him! As ludicrous as this sounds, in those days many men got away with this and actually got the results they wanted with women. Not Char. Deavers assigned Char to another job working in the airplane factory, but not including flying.
Enter David Frazier, an FBI agent and brother of three sisters, one of who, Eleanor, an FBI agent, became a worker with a very surprised Char turned FBI agent, in the factory. Dave worked as their liaison and was never too far away. The girls blended right in with other workers and became riveters, a job they discovered was a very hard and demanding job that left them completely worn out after each shift. Once they learned how to rivet they figured they would have more time to look around to see anything suspicious.
Things became very interesting when several bad accidents occurred, some in the plant and some while a WASP was ferrying or flight testing an airplane. At first it was very hard to see anything wrong occurring but eventually the girls saw and heard things that they were suspicious of and gave the information to Dave. But instead of sabotage decreasing it increased and became more dangerous. The girls got better at seeking out suspects as more got injured. The reader can sense the danger that German spies caused in our defense during WWII, seemingly unconcerned if they hurt or killed their fellow workers that they had gotten to know quite well. Char and Eleanor were in danger when some spies suspected they, as well as some other girls, were agents and they had to watch each others backs carefully.
The Woman in the Wing is an easy but good read. Jean Sheldon writes in a way that you can understand what is going on and why. I have never read any of her books before but this makes me want to try another. Thanks Jean.
REVIEWED BY CY HILTERMAN
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