Linda Maloney knows her subject when she writes of women who balance the career of military flying and motherhood. The author herself was one of the first to fly combat missions after the law allowing women to do so went into effect in 1993. Not so coincidently, she also happens to be the mother of two boys.
Passionately devoted to her career and family, Maloney records the stories of others women likewise who dared to dream big. The book is divided along service lines: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Each account is unique, but they all share two things in common, a love of flying and family.
Being a woman balancing a career and a family isn’t easy even in civilian life, but being a pilot, navigator, flight instructor, etc., in the military sometimes with a husband who may or not be deployed at the same station with you, is daunting to say the least. Many had to face male prejudice and military restrictions, such as initially limiting women to non-combat flight. Some had physical limitations, wearing eyeglasses, for example, or becoming pregnant, or watched others dropped from training programs (men and women) because they could not physically cope with the rigors of flying. Nor were women spared the worst case scenarios, crashes and even death. Maloney pays touching tribute to a friend, Kara, whose F-14 didn’t make landing on the USS Lincoln and was the sole crew member who didn’t survive. Equally fitting is Maloney’s dedication to Lieutenant Commander Barbara Rainey, an aircraft instructor who was killed while training a pilot, leaving two young daughters behind.
No matter the odds or risks, these are intimate accounts of women who wanted to serve their country in a particular way—by flying. Some came from military backgrounds, which made their career choice easy. Some came from horse farms. Some joined the military to finance their educations. Some went to Annapolis. Some became Chief Warrant officers, other lieutenant colonels or Rear Admirals. Some dreamed of flying before entering the service, others afterwards. There was no one set path to their goal. Yet all had the ambition, brains, and courage to endure rigorous training programs, peace and war deployments, separations from family, and yes, pregnancy and career. It is interesting to note how different branches of the service deal with pregnancy. It is even more interesting to note how these with coped with the demands of pregnancy and children. Some kept on flying, others took ground posts, and others resigned their commissions. Nor is there any right or wrong approach to their solutions. Each suited the exigencies of their particular situation.
What sets the book apart are the special touches Maloney adds. Each woman gives two pieces of advice, her insights from parenting and her comment on her career. The Little Flybys, quotes from some of their children at the end of the book, are endearing. “No, Zoli, only girls can fly,” says a four-year-old to her younger brother. Perhaps not, but fly they certainly can!
Reviewed by: Barbara Peacock (2012)
Military Fly Moms is a gorgeous coffee-table book with a collection of true stories by seventy women who shared the same two dreams—becoming a military aviator, and being a mom. The first few women, who, in the seventies, took their places in the world of all-male military aviation, paved the way for other women to follow. From flying during the Cold War to rescue missions during Hurricane Katrina to flying in combat during the current war on terror, these gutsy women—our nation’s sisters, daughters, neighbors, friends, and, yes, even moms—have done it all. Illustrated throughout with 75 stunning color photos, Military Fly Moms depicts women aviators in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard alongside their helicopters, transport aircraft, or fighter planes, as well as highlighting their families. These stories and their accompanying photographs weave a beautiful tapestry, passing on a lasting legacy to inspire future generations to reach for their dreams