Winged Victory

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"All those who see me, and all who believe in me, share in the freedom I feel when I fly."

Documentary Reviews

Wings of Their Own
Directed by Mary Scott
Produced by Mary Scott and Abby Dress

Purchase from Official Site
$19.95 includes shipping

Reviewer's Verdict
Well worth purchasing, and quite inspiring, but viewer needs to work unneccesarily to fully appreciate the doc.

Wings of Their Own has the makings of a wonderful documentary. Over 200 women pilots were interviewed, and selected soundbytes of those interviews are presented in this 90-minute DVD.

Unfortunately, the documentary has a major flaw. Typically, when one is viewing "talking heads" on a doc, each "talking head" is captioned so you know who it is and what it is they have done. Not so with Wings of Their Own.

In this doc, very rarely is anyone identified. Typically, it is only when archive footage is used, as for the WASP, or for the Mercury 13. For all the other women, one must wait for the very end of the doc, when a handful of them, each standing in front of their plane, gives their name.

This lack of identification is extremely annoying!

Fortunately, there exists a bit of a work around. On the Menu page for the doc is something called the Pilot's Gallery, and this gallery presents the women, in order of their first appearance in the doc (many appear several times throughout each section) and lists a bit of their qualifications - for example if they were a WASP, if they fly for an airline, which branch of the Service they fly for, and so on.

Now, my memory isn't good enough to remember all the women's photos and ID them when I see the woman on the screen - but I was able to see a woman who had something particularly inspiring to say, pause the DVD and go to the Pilot Gallery, and track her down that way.

In addition, the doc's producers have this gallery on their website, and you can preview these women there, as well: pilots in order of their appearance.

My other quibble with the design of the DVD is the lack of "Section" identifiers. As you can see from the menu pages I've provided here, there are 18 sections to the doc, from "the Ninety-Nines" to "Why We Fly" to "Early History" and so on.

It would have been nice if these "Title Cards" had been included in the doc itself, so that the viewer could see these new sections coming, but there are no such distinctions, which I found a bit annoying. It's just one talking head after another, with the occasional interspersal of scenery or archival footage.

Of course, that really only applies if you're watching this doc in school or in a movie theater. If you have it on DVD, you can select each chapter from the Menu Page, and that alleviates that little difficulty - as you know what's being addressed! The above review may sound super-critical, but that should not dissuade you from purchasing this doc (or requesting your local library and/or school to do so!)

By providing soundbytes from over 200 women, we do not get much in-depth information about each one, but cumulatively we are shown such a wide variety of women pilots, from student pilots just starting out to those who have made flying their careers, to the WASP and pioneer pilots who are still flying to day. A lot of time is spent on the WASP and the Mercury 13, which is as it should be. Indeed, one of the most inspiring interviewees in the doc, for me, was Elinor Smith, who had accomplished so much in her lifetime.

Elinor Smith describes the attempts Bobbi Trout and she made to set air endurance records.

All the pilots had interesting things to say, if only their own explanations for why they were interested in flight, but a few were especially inspirational. Eagle Flight commander Christine A. Jean-Charles, teaching inner city youths in New Jersey how to fly, Marcia B. Fuller who got her master's degree in education at the age of 66, and of course Wally Funk (one of the Mercury 13.)

Christine Jean-Charles (left), Marcia B. Fuller (right)

Therefore, although I think the presentation of this documentary could have been better, the infectious enthusiasm of all the women involved makes it a very fun viewing.

Also included on the DVD are three extra interviews - "The Hindenberg", "The F-18 seat" and "A German Flyer".

A great slice of history, a great slice of the present, and hopefully an inspiration for the future. Everybody should see this doc.


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