Friday, October 23, 2009

Taking Wing

I'm looking forward to seeing Hilary Swank as our favorite Aviatrix in the new Mira Nair fim, Amelia. I'm not much of a Richard Gere fan, actually, but I think this one is worth seeing in the theater on the big screen.

The release of Amelia reminds me of friend Jeannine Atkins's wonderful book on women and flight, Wings and Rockets: The Story of Women in Air and Space. On her website, Jeannine tells a great where-I-get-my-ideas story about how the book was inspired by a trip with her husband and daughter to a roadside military museum where she saw a WASP uniform on a manequin:
 One summer day we were driving down a back road in New Hampshire when my husband spotted an army tank that looked like it had crashed through a brick wall. He had to pull over. Small military museums are not exactly my thing, but I love my husband .. and he promised the next stop would be a lake (bathing suits were packed).
I took my daughter’s hand as we wound our way around exhibits, then I yanked her to a stop in front of a manequin dressed in the uniform worn by women pilots during World War II. I’m always intrigued by women I never read about in history books while growing up. I bought a few books and soon was captivated by the daring WASPs who ferried and tested airplanes during the war ... then were sent home with a rather swift farewell.

I've been priveleged to work in a very small way with Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic explorer and marine biologist known as a passionate and tireless advocate for the world's oceans. While she's not an aviator, Earle participated in the late 1960s in Project Tektite, a NASA experiment in underwater living meant to approximate the physical and psychological rigors of life in space. You can read an interview with Earle about life in the "Tektite Hilton" at

You might also want to check out this nice site for the American Experience film, "The Fly Girls" to see these aviation pioneers in action.

[Illustration: Amelia and Hilary from]


  1. Thank you so much for the sweet words. I'll be interested in your take on the movie. I saw the previews and got kind of a bad feeling. But you never know. Maybe Hilary Swank can pull it off.

  2. You are so welcome, Jeannine. It may be a two-star movie, but some two-star movies are worth seeing on a big screen.