In 1940s America, Jacqueline Cochran is the rarest kind of woman: she’s a self-made millionaire pilot who, since the disappearance of her friend Amelia Earhart, has become the nation’s darling of the air. But she’s no darling. At the outbreak of World War II, Cochran uses her considerable celebrity and wealth to launch a fight of her own against the US Army. The notion might seem absurd, but she aims to command a group of women pilots within the Army Air Corps.
Cochran is beautiful and scrappy, but she’s not the only woman pilot with ambition. Vassar-educated socialite Nancy Love also wants women flying military planes, but she has a different idea of how they should be used. Goodbye Glamour Gals is a novel of extraordinary women in an extraordinary time.
A cold rivalry develops as Cochran and Love struggle to convince the Army that women are a national resource. Each gains allies and, remarkably, two fragile programs emerge. But in a world hostile to progressive women, it is clear only one organization can succeed.
With the aid of a powerful general, Cochran merges the programs under her command, relegating Love to a vague, subordinate role. The Women Airforce Service Pilots—the WASP—are born, and by summer 1944 they are flying every kind of airplane in the Army, from the P-51 Mustang to the B-29 Superfortress. The women pilots work under punishing conditions, drink, swear, and even establish the “Mile High Club.” They do this while often wearing impeccable makeup, enduring brutal discrimination, and fending off aggressive sexual advances.
Inevitably, the WASP project ignites a national media controversy that portrays the hardworking women pilots as the Army’s glamorous trophy girls, and Cochran and Love are compelled to join forces in opposition—taking their fight all the way to the floor of Congress.
Although based closely on true events, Goodbye Glamour Gals is written in a fictional narrative style. All 100,000 words are deliberately consistent with the 1940s lexicon, researched down to the idiom.