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This is a duel biography of two women aviators, Hanna Reitsch (1912-1979) and Countess Melitta Schiller Schenk Gafin von Stauffenberg (1903-1945). Hanna had Aryan looks and Melitta was a brunette from Prussian aristocracy. These women became brilliant pilots in the 1930s when few women were allowed to fly.
Hanna was a supporter of Hitler’s new regime and lent her image to a series of publicity articles and collectibles. She dropped out of medical school to pursue flying. She became a test pilot and also flew the famous ME163 rocket plane and was almost killed in the process. She flew all types of planes including helicopters and gliders. She set 40 flight altitude records. She was the first woman to fly a helicopter and was awarded the Military Flying Medal. Hitler awarded her the Iron Cross 1st Class for her courage and commitment to duty. She was the first woman to receive the honor during the war. She was also the first woman to receive the Luftwaffe Pilot/Observer Badge in Gold with Diamonds. and to be awarded the title Flugkapitan (Flight Captain).
Melitta was shy and more conflicted about the regime. Melitta graduated in 1927 cum laude from the Technical University of Munich in aeronautical engineering. She went on to obtain her Ph.D. She became one the Nazis most senior aeronautical engineer and the lead Stuka dive bomber test pilot. She did over 2,000 test dives during the war. Her father had some Jewish blood. She was married to Alexander von Stauffenberg (1905-1964) whose brother, Claus von Stauffenberg (1907-1944), was executed for Operation Valkyrie. She was arrested with all of the family after Valkyrie, but she was released and her husband was sent to a concentration camp. Melitta headed up her own military flight institute which was an unheard-of position for a woman in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. In 1944, she also received the Iron Cross. She was the second women to be awarded the title Flugkapitan (Flight Captain). She was awarded the Gold Front Flying Clasp for Bombers in 1944 for flying over 1500 test flights in bombers. Melitta was shot down on 8 April 1945 by an allied fighter plane.
The book is well written and meticulously researched. The author searches for the truth about the two female pilots, how they became successful pilots and how they felt about serving Hitler. The author does not go into depth about Nazism or the war except in how the women interacted with it. Mulley stated that the two women avoided each other and had a difficult relationship. Apparently Melitta, felt that Hanna was a Nazi. The author successfully portrays their passion for flying and their dedication to aviation.
The book is fifteen hours long. Christa Lewis does an excellent job narrating the book. Lewis is a voice-over artist and award-winning audiobook narrator.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
I love this book. I heard about these women and this book told me everything .
1 of 1 people found this review helpful