Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America's Heart
by Julie Cummins, illustrated by Malene R. Laugesen
Roaring Brook Press, 2013. Unpaged. Biography
Young girls may be mystified at stories like this one, of a time when women were not allowed or not expected to engage in certain activities; in this case, flying airplanes. Ruth Elder was not the most famous, nor anywhere near the most successful, of early female pilots, but her good looks and sparkling personality made her America's sweetheart of the air. She was the first woman to to attempt a transatlantic flight, along with her flying instructor George Haldeman, but after 36 hours in the air, they had to ditch into the Atlantic because of a ruptured oil line. Not fazed in the least, Ruth went on to Paris, was featured in a few movies, and participated in the first women's cross-country air race, named the Powder Puff Derby by Will Rogers, who saw the women refreshing their makeup as he was preparing to emcee the opening ceremonies. Flying Solo . . . is a great story with terrific pictures about advancing "confidently in the direction of your dreams" (Henry David Thoreau).