Molly Takes Flight

Short story collection published in 2006; author Valerie Tripp; illustrator Susan McAliley, Nick Backes, Philip Hood, or Keith Skeen


With all the upheaval the war has brought to Molly's life, she's relieved to be able to go visit her grandparents on their farm like she's done in past Augusts. It will be nice to do something normal for a change. But things are different even there. None of the rest of her family can come, and her aunt Eleanor, who used to spend a lot of time with Molly, is joining the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Molly's angry about that; it means that yet another person she loves is being kept away from her because of the war, and that another person is doing something risky that could get her hurt...or worse.

Then Eleanor takes Molly up in her plane and shows her how much Eleanor loves flying. Spending some quality time with her aunt and in such an exciting way helps Molly understand why Eleanor is so dedicated to joining the WASPs. It's a way she can use her passion for flying to help the Allies win the war. Molly is even able to help her grandparents understand their daughter's decision. She explains how her dad told her, her mom, Jill, Ricky, and Brad that they need to be his North Star, to guide him home. Eleanor uses her parents and the farm the same way. Seeing how their daughter still loves them deeply helps them let her go enough for Eleanor to be in the WASP program.

Looking Back

The WASP program started in 1942, the brainchild of Jacqueline Cochran. While the women never saw combat--instead they ferried planes from one area to another or assisted in training--it was still risky. One job was to tow targets behind planes for infantry to practice their shooting. With real guns. They also tested new planes that sometimes had flaws. Thirty-eight women died in the two years the program ran. Thousands of women applied to be WASPs, and 1, 074 were accepted and passed training. One big success was their flying of the P-39 aircraft, which male pilots had dubbed a flying coffin. But the WASP pilots were determined to prove themselves and paid strict attention in their training. They showed that the P-39 was a perfectly fine plane to fly for men or women. The P-39 became one of the most wide-spread planes in use during the 1940s.


It wasn't the Air Force in World War II, like Eleanor calls it. It was the Army Air Corps until 1947, when the services separated. It should be written out as one word (Airforce) or Air Corps.

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