• ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00VGXV2RU
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Long River Press (March 30, 2015)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ March 30, 2015
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 49610 KB
  • Simultaneous device usage ‏ : ‎ Unlimited
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 425 pages

Patti Gully (Author)



Gully explores the lives of a trio of largely unknown Asian aviatrixes: Hilda Yan, Li Xiaqing, and Jessie Zheng. Although the women are certainly noteworthy for their flying adventures in the 1930s, Gully goes far beyond the field of aviation in recounting their experiences. Through their biographies, she writes about modern Chinese history prior to Communism in a way that is both invigorating and quietly dazzling. Each of the women came from families heavily involved in Chinese politics, and their commitment to their country was largely what drove them to obtain pilot’s licenses in a time when many Chinese women still bound their feet. Gully exposes the challenges the women faced, and the hard decisions they made, particularly when it came to their spouses and children. The aviation exploits are impressive, but just as remarkable is the work the three did promoting Chinese relief agencies after the Japanese invasion. An objective and adroitly crafted work of history, replete with copious notes, photos, and maps, Gully’s unprecedented group portrait is also a grand introduction to Chinese politics and feminist studies. –Colleen Mondor –ALA Booklist, May 15, 2008

About the Author

Patti Gully is Executive Assistant of the Britich Columbia Anesthesiologists’ Society. She has a BA in Arts (University of Winnipeg) with majors in English, Religious Studies and Classics, and holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of British Columbia. She is also an amateur pilot and aviation history scholar.


In the late 1930s, as the world moved closer to war, three Chinese women defied gender perceptions by becoming pilots. Driven by a fierce independent spirit, they realized their dream of flying, completed barnstorming goodwill missions across the Western hemisphere, and captured the imagination of all those whose lives they touched.

They were Hilda Yan, once China’s representative at the League of Nations; Li Xiaqing, known as film actress Li Dandan before becoming China’s “First Woman of the Air;” and Jessie Zheng, the only commissioned female officer in the Chinese Air Force.

In a story almost forgotten to history, Patti Gully’s exhaustive research delves into the lives of these women, uncovering their fascinating personalities, loves, passions, and above all their unwavering sense of patriotism and duty. In a time when virtually no Chinese woman could even drive a car, these aviatrixes used flight as a metaphor for their own freedom as well as a symbol of empowerment.

Paradoxically, despite their success, Gully also reveals how they struggled with chequered, stormy personal relationships, with wrecked marriages and the children they left behind the price they ultimately paid to realize their dream of flying.

Sisters of Heaven offers a rare look at lost era in aviation history, gender studies, and the history of China and the West.

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