Capt. Lulu Davies, the heroine of my World War II historical romance His Very Own Girl, is British civilian pilot. As fit fighting men in the Allied countries joined the armed forces, women took increasingly prominent roles in the work place. That meant some flew planes.
The Air Transport Auxiliary in the UK employed men who were missing limbs, missing eyes–but who could still ferry repaired, new, and reserve aircraft to where they were needed all over the UK. Eventually, as ATA pilots began to transport troops and provide field ambulance flights, even these men did not meet demand. The ATA quickly opened their rolls to women.
One in eight ATA pilots were women, and 15 lost their lives during the war. The ATA became the first organization within the British government to authorize equal pay for equal work, and thereby attracted women from around the world to participate. Pilots began with single-engine aircraft and worked their way up to larger, more difficult planes, including massive four-engine bombers. Together with the men, they delivered over 300,000 aircraft to their destinations.
In the US, a similar civilian ferrying system was established in 1942, called the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs. They received as little as 35% of the pay men received, yet they handled over 50% of aircraft ferried in the USA. Their duties were expanded to more dangerous roles, such as towing targets for aerial gunnery practice. Some women went on to become flight instructors.
After delivering 12,650 aircraft, the WASPs were disbanded in December of 1944. Although 38 WASPs died in service to their country, records of the entire organization were sealed for 35 years. It wasn’t until the Carter Administration that they were awarded full military benefits and honors.
Here, Lulu faces male chauvinism even as she’s trying to save lives.
“Get on the horn and find a squadron,” Lulu said. “Yanks, Brits–I don’t care.”
She returned her gaze to the slate gray sky beyond the punctured window. Cold February air blew against her face. Although her responsibility to a plane full of wounded soldiers and nurses banged against her senses, she blocked them out.
Every instinct narrowed on a single goal: survival.
Two more German Messerschmitts jumped out of the thick winter clouds and sideswiped the plane. Four in all. Gunfire sprayed just off starboard.
They’re bloody toying with me.
Lulu jerked the transport’s controls to the left. She worked hard to rein in the adrenaline whipping through her veins, but she still wound up shouting into the headset. “Cpl. Ramis, I need an ETA on our backup.”
“Spitfires from the 122nd Squadron, RAF, will be here in twelve minutes. They’re scrambling to intercept.”
“We’ll be smoldering in a field with the cowpats by then. Do you want that?”
“Nor I. Sergeant Peterson? Please consult your lovely maps. I need to get to the nearest antiaircraft battery.”
“We’re not authorized to fly outside this lane,” Peterson said. “We’ll get in the way of eastbound flights.”
“Should I see anyone, I’ll be sure to get the hell out of their way–which is what I’m trying to do with these Jerries. If you don’t fancy your chances with me, I suggest you find your chute. Either jump or use the silk to shut your blimmin’ mouth.”
I like to think that in a small way, His Very Own Girl and its intrepid heroine, Lulu, will open readers’ eyes about these women flyers and the immense contribution they made to the Allied war effort!
Summer has been a blast! Available now from Pocket Books are three Christ Family romances. FLAWLESS kicked it off with a tale of an estranged couple’s search for love. The 99¢ tie-in novella, “A LITTLE MORE SCANDAL” follows two aspiring lovers to London. And the Scottish-set second novel, STARLIGHT, was an RT BookReviews 4½ Star Top Pick. “Richly nuanced characters and a superbly realized Victorian setting come together brilliantly.” ~ The Chicago Tribune
I’ve also launched a co-written pseudonym, Katie Porter , with my long-time friend and critique partner, Lorelie Brown. Our “Vegas Top Guns” series of contemporary erotic romances launched from Samhain with DOUBLE DOWN and INSIDE BET, both of which were RT BookReviews 4½ Star Top Picks: “This racy, raunchy, hella good read…will move Fifty Shades of Grey to the children’s section of the bookstore.”
Where to find me:
I’d like to give away a digital copy of HIS VERY OWN GIRL in any format. Just answer the question: Where would you most like to fly, and why? Hopefully not while evading enemy aircraft!
Thanks again to The Book Pushers for featuring His Very Own Girl!
The giveaway will end on Saturday the 15th of September – Good luck!
12 thoughts on “Guest Post and Giveaway by Carrie Lofty: Women Take to the Skies”
I’d live to fly to Egypt. After devouring every Elizabeth Peters book, I would dearly love to see the pyramids and souks myself.
My husband was in the Navy Reserve in a P-e squadron when he got out of the Navy during Vietnam and I always wanted to fly with him when he used to go to Spain and then “keep watch” over the Straits of Gibralter!
Whenever he would try to describe to me the different ships (and Russian submarines) they would track through the Straits and in fact one time he actually got a picture of the Russian submarine that later went down off the coast of Norway!
Because my only of experiencing looking for submarines or like during the first Iraw war when he was cruising along the eastern seaboard looking for scud missles I can only imagine the tension inside the P-3!
Most people only know about this aircraft because they’ve read the book by Tom Clancy “Hunt for Red October” or seen the movie but my experience is from hearing first hand what the crewmen go throught. He retired from the Reserves several years ago but I’ll always wonder what it would be like to be on the aircraft with him!
I’d like to fly all over the United States, especially over the Grand Canyon and the Western shore from California to Washington, because it there would be such beautiful scenery to be seen from the air. I think being a pilot in Alaska would be cool too, because there are places that are only accessible by air during much of the year and you would be providing a vital service.
Barbed1951 at aol dot com
I would love to fly the space shuttle and travel in space. I would be able to watch the sunrise and sunset from space (the view is spectacular especially from space via satellite). It would be so out of this world to see it in person.
I would like to fly to Hawaii, Italy and Ireland. I would love to see those places. Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me. Tore923@aol.com
I would like to fly to Europe and see England, Germany, Ireland and Scotland. I have never been and there are so many sites I have only seen in pictures.
Id love to see Ireland, Scotland and Egypt. This sounds great!! Id love to read it! Thanks for sharing and for the great giveaway!
I would like to fly to the UK (first class please) with my family for a big holiday. That counts, right? 😀
hankts AT internode DOT on DOT net
Thanks to everyone for stopping by and offering your stories and hopes. I want to just about anywhere! I love flying, although my husband gets grumpy about the crowds and actual time on the plane. Isn’t that half the fun? I hope you enjoy HIS VERY OWN GIRL. It’s such a personal story for me, one of those rare labor’s of love an author is occasionally allowed to indulge. Your curiosity and enthusiasm means the world to me!
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I’d love to fly to Paris, my dream destination.
Thanks for the chance to win your new book. I love this era and your books!
Thanks for this guestpost, I think this was a very interesting time for women to do things they never would have been able or allowed to do otherwise. I would like to fly over my own city, and see the landmarks from above one day. But I would prefer doing that in a balloon 🙂