Hulu has become quite the hub for a good documentary or two these days; with titles like Fyre Fraud, Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies, WeWork, and others, there are more than enough documentaries to fill your queue (and then some), many of which expose the truth about various subjects. Like many other industries, aviation has long been dominated by men… but there is a long history of women taking flight, and that’s exactly what Fly Like a Girl, now streaming on the platform, shines a light on.
FLY LIKE A GIRL: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: Directed by Katie McEntire Wiatt, Fly Like a Girl tells the story of a several different women and girls with a passion for flying, whether in planes, helicopters, or space shuttles. To help contextualize the current state of women in aviation, there’s also quite a bit of archival footage of famous female flyers throughout history, as well as interviews with with women like the late Bee Haydu (pictured below), who served as a Women Airforce Service Pilot in World War II, Vernice Armour, America’s first African American female combat pilot, retired astronaut Nicole Stott, Patty Wagstaff, a national aerobatic champion, and Shaesta Waiz, the youngest woman to take a solo flight around the world in a single-engine aircraft, among many others.
As we hear from these women and girls – there’s young Afton, whose passion for the skies can’t be contained, and Taylor Richardson, who dreams of being an astronaut – we start to see the big picture, and how we got here in the first place. There’s footage of Amelia Earhart and Jerrie Mock, photos of history-makers like Bessie Coleman, old training videos about handling women in the workplace, archival footage from World War II and beyond. Combining the past and the present as well as our future makes for a truly eye-opening experience, one that sheds light on a subject not as widely discussed as it should be.
Performance Worth Watching: All of the interview subjects in Fly Like a Girl are totally compelling, but I gotta say my heart was stolen by Afton’s sassy chickens (many of which were named for famous female aviators).
Memorable Dialogue: I jotted down so many beautiful quotes during Fly Like a Girl, but Vernice Armour quoting something that’s always stuck with her wound up sticking with me: “Stand up and be counted, because you never know who’s counting on you.” It really speaks to the heart of the film and why and how all these women are flying at all.
Sex and Skin: Not that kind of doc!
Our Take: Fly Like a Girl is a documentary that finds its strength in its subjects; little Afton and her toy legos, model planes, and chickens, Bee Haydu and her incredible stories about the WASPs, Nicole Stott’s trip to the stars and newfound passion for art, Vernice Armour’s small-world tales of meeting one of the men she saved from above, Shaesta Waiz and her incredible journey around the world and efforts to get kids excited about STEM, Senator Tammy Duckworth and her unlikely path to becoming a pilot (and later a politician). Those are just a few of the many incredible women and girls interviewed in Fly Like a Girl, a film that struggles to find consistent structure, but is compelling nonetheless. Watching these women describe how different and beautiful and romantic the world is from up above with a bit of a twinkle in their eye is something that’s hard to put into to words, and it’s why Fly Like a Girl is so effective on an emotional level.
While Fly Like a Girl occasionally veers in the on-the-nose girl power direction, it mostly seems to understand what story its telling and the significance of ensuring that the loudest things in this documentary are the voices of the women it lends a platform to. This film is clearly one that seeks to inspire more young girls to get excited about aviation and STEM, and I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t succeed. With all of these women demonstrating the different ways one can become involved in this industry – whether in the skies, in a lab, in a booth, on the ground, or elsewhere – it seems like the possibilities are endless. Fly Like a Girl is a multi-generational film, and by utilizing the archival footage that it does and interviewing women of all ages, we’re truly able to get a look at the scale of it all – and the impact all of these women have had on one another, whether they all realize it or not.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Fly Like a Girl is a moving look at the way flight has changed the lives of women from all kinds of backgrounds and may very well inspire a few more to start their own journeys into the skies.
Jade Budowski is a freelance writer with a knack for ruining punchlines, hogging the mic at karaoke, and thirst-tweeting. Follow her on Twitter: @jadebudowski.
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