Knox Press

The Fly Girls Revolt: The Story of the Women Who Kicked Open the Door to Fly in Combat


This is the untold story of the women military aviators of the 1970s and 1980s who kicked open the door to fly in combat in 1993—along with the story of the women who paved the way before them.

In 1993, U.S. women earned the right to fly in combat, but the full story of how it happened is largely unknown. From the first women in the military in World War II to the final push in the 1990s, The Fly Girls Revolt chronicles the actions of a band of women who overcame decades of discrimination and prevailed against bureaucrats, chauvinists, anti-feminists, and even other military women.

Drawing on extensive research, interviews with women who served in the 1970s and 1980s, and her personal experiences in the Air Force, Eileen Bjorkman weaves together a riveting tale of the women who fought for the right to enter combat and be treated as equal partners in the U.S. military.

Although the military had begun training women as aviators in 1973, by a law of Congress they could not fly in harm’s way. Time and again when a woman graduated at the top of her pilot training class, a less-qualified male pilot was sent to fly a combat aircraft in her place.

Most of the women who fought for change between World War II and today would never fly in combat themselves, but they earned their places in history by strengthening the U.S. military and ensuring future women would not be denied opportunities solely because of their sex. The Fly Girls Revolt is their story.

“This is a story that needed to be told, both from an historical perspective and on behalf of the many women who were a part of it. I speak for all of these women in expressing profound gratitude to Eileen for bringing our story to life for others to reflect on, learn from, and act on.” —General Janet Wolfenbarger, USAF, (Ret)

“[A] must read…for all who aspire to lead change in the American military, or anyplace else.” —General James M. “Mike” Holmes, USAF (Ret), former Commander, Air Combat Command