Women Aren't Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon

Women Aren't Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon

by Harriet A. Hall


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This irreverent romp through the worlds of medicine and the military is part autobiography, part social history, and part laugh-out-loud comedy. When the author graduated from medical school in 1970, only 7% of America's doctors were women, and very few of those joined the military. She was the second woman ever to do an Air Force internship, the only woman doctor at David Grant USAF Medical Center, and the only female military doctor in Spain. She had to fight for acceptance: even the 3 year old daughter of a patient told her father, "Oh, Daddy! That¿s not a doctor, that's a lady." She was refused a radiology residency because they subtracted points for women. She couldn¿t have dependents: she was paid less than her male counterparts, she couldn't live on base, and her civilian husband was not even covered for medical care or allowed to shop on base. After spending six years as a General Medical Officer in Franco's Spain, she became a family practice specialist and a flight surgeon, doing everything from delivering babies to flying a B-52. Along the way, she found time to buy her own airplane and learn to fly it (in that order) and to have two babies of her own. She retired as a full colonel. As a rare woman in a male-dominated field, she encountered prejudice, silliness, and even frank disbelief. Her sense of humor kept her afloat; she enlivened the solemnity of her job with antics like admitting a spider to the hospital and singing "The Mickey Mouse Club March" on a field exercise. This book describes her education and career. She tells an entertaining story of what it was like to be a female doctor, flight surgeon, pilot, and military officer in a world that wasn't quite ready for her yet. The title is taken from her first cross-country solo flight: when she closed out her flight plan, the man at the desk said, "Didn't anybody ever tell you women aren't supposed to fly?"

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780595499588
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/24/2008
Pages: 236
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.54(d)

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Women Aren't Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
zzshupinga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating memoir of one of the first female flight surgeons and the battles she endured not only in the Air Force and earning her pilot wings, but also in medical school itself. This isn't necessarily what I would call a traditional autobiography that many people maybe used to, where it reads more like a story (probably because so many today are written with the help of ghost writers.) Instead Harriet tells her life story in short brief blurbs with brief factual statements and some of these blurbs/statements only last a paragraph before jumping to the next one without much of a transition. And while it's a bit distracting at first, it actually makes a much more compelling memoir because it feels more grounded in reality. It almost feels like we're having a casual conversation with her which makes it that much easier to follow the story...and is fantastic
sgerbic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
August 2008This memoir follows a brilliant young woman through the difficult decisions we all must make, career, love, education and family. Harriet knew from an early age that she wanted to be a doctor, at that time female doctors were not unknown, just rare. Rarer still were female Air Force doctors. The story of her struggle to succeed and excel will inspire both genders. Remembrances of the discrimination and sexual harassment will make the reader shudder with annoyance at the stupidity, we must remember that this all takes place in another era, and people like Harriet Hall helped change opinions and policies, making it possible to see doctors as genderless occupations. I want to point out one comment she makes about the ¿lipstick test¿ only because it recently happened in my life, I had no idea that doctors actually looked to see if a female patient wore lipstick as a sign that she is feeling good that day. My mother¿s doctor during a visit commented on my mom having a really red shade on and that she must be feeling much better, (and she was). Funny because I thought that doctors are so rushed off their feet that they have little time to notice these things, but maybe that is the reason they notice them, because they have so little time they must look for small indicators. I am delighted to learn that Harriet majored in Spanish for her BA, I had no idea that is even a possibility for a medical student, she also mentions music majors entering medical school. I learned a lot about learning to fly, how the military and hospitals work. This is a great fun read that I would recommend to any student unsure about their future plans, they will learn to just keep moving forward, take on opportunities that are offered to you, and somehow it will all turn out okay in the end. It may not be where you planned on being, but it should be a good place. I am disappointed only that very little is mentioned of Harriet¿s involvement in the Skeptical community, (though the Bidlack reference is a gem). I suppose that because this is only the first 40 years of the authors life, she is waiting to finish the next 40 before she writes the next volume. She mentions that her retirement years have kept her so busy that she can¿t figure out how she found time to work. Somehow I believe this. 24-2008