The heroism and grit of female pilots in the U.S. and USSR during the Second World War


Flying for Her Country

The American and Soviet Women Military Pilots of World War II

146 pages; 6" x 9"; 32 B&W photos

$15.95   $12.76
Available: March 2009


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.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)

Amy Goodpaster Strebe is a journalist and historian. She is the author of Desert Dogs: The Marines of Operation Iraqi Freedom (2004). Strebe holds a master’s degree in history from San Jose State University. She has written extensively on the U.S. armed forces and is one of the leading experts on the women military pilots of World War II.


"I was familiar with the WASP and their patriotic service during WWII, however, the somewhat parallel story of Soviet women fighter pilots was absolutely fascinating and unknown to me. The fight of both groups to be taken seriously by mostly male counterparts in their respective countries is a story that Ms. Strebe has told exceptionally well. As a woman military pilot in the 70's and 80's, I clearly remember what we faced; but the smear tactics against the WASP when they were disbanded and the suppression of the women Soviet fighter pilots after WWII is a story everyone should read."
-- Barbara Garwood, former USAF pilot, one of the founding members of the Women Military Aviators, Inc. and American Airlines pilot

Flying for Her Country will not disappoint the reader looking for a nicely written account of both American and Soviet women military pilots or military history buffs interested in all variations of stories written about women military pilots. Strebe’s style of writing is engaging … a particular strength of the book is its comprehensive and thorough bibliography. Strebe did a commendable job of gathering well-known and obscure sources together in her research, and this bibliography provides a valuable resource to scholars, students and interested readers.”
-- Minerva Journal of Women and War, Spring 2009

“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

“Before reading Flying for Her Country, I never imagined that the Russian women military pilots of WWII had the same values (honor, integrity, courage, commitment, faith, patriotism, service and sacrifice) as America’s WWII women pilots. This fascinating book portrays a significant chapter in history that is not found in most history books. It is educational, motivational and inspirational as it chronicles the history of how these young women military pilots proved that, no matter the challenge, no matter your nationality, and no matter how difficult the mission, you can do anything, if it’s the right thing to do and you put your mind to it.”
-- Deanie Bishop Parrish, WASP (Class 44-W-4)

“Amy Goodpaster Strebe has done an outstanding job researching and writing about the invaluable contributions made by women pilots in the Second World War. As pioneers in military aviation, the WASP proved to the world that they were indeed capable of flying both fighter and bomber aircraft. In the case of the Soviet women aviators who saw combat along the Eastern Front, their indomitable spirit and heroism in battle have made them legendary. A book depicting the combined achievements of these intrepid military airwomen is long over due. I highly recommend it.”
-- Dr. Peggy Chabrian, president and founder, Women in Aviation, International

“Strebe’s book offers a beautifully written, well-researched account of a little known but fascinating aspect of World War II. Her story of these women aviators in the U.S. and USSR is both dramatic and moving. Their courage is truly remarkable. Equally amazing is the way they were treated by their respective governments because of their gender. Strebe’s book is not to be missed by anyone interested in women’s history and military history.”
-- Mary Pickering, Ph.D., professor of history, San Jose State University

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