Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Booklist: Spreading My Wings
SPREADING MY WINGS: One of Britain's Top Women Pilots Tells Her Remarkable Story from Pre-war Flying to Breaking the Sound Barrier, by Diana Barnato Walker
The daughter of millionaire racing driver, Woolf Barnato, and granddaughter of Barney Barnato who cofounded the De Beers mining company, by 1936 Diana had had enough of her affluent, chaperoned existence and sought excitement in flying, soloing at Brooklands after only six hours' training. She has followed her own instincts ever since.
Joining the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1941 to help ferry aircraft to squadrons and bases throughout the country, she flew scores of different aircraft - fighters, bombers, and trainers - in all kinds of conditions and without radio it has to be remembered.
She lost many friends, a fiance' and a husband before 1945 but continued to fly. In 1962 she was awarded the Jean Lennox Bird Trophy for notable achievement in aviation and then - her greatest moment - in 1963 flew a Lightning through the sound barrier becoming 'the fastest woman in the world'. She was awarded the MBE in 1965.
Her remarkable memoirs, lauded when first published in hardback, are now available in paperback. Brimming with adventure, anecdotes and famous names, the book makes compelling reading. It is the story of a very special woman who, now in her eighties, continues to live life to the full from her home in Surrey.