The Sky and I

Book Review: The Sky And I  by Ann Holtgren Pellegreno

I just finished reading a startlingly superb book, The Sky And I by Ann Holtgren Pellegreno.  It was so good that, now that I’m ready to review it, I feel seriously inadequate. I’ll try and quickly convey the book’s essence but I’ll no doubt fall short. What I can tell you with certainty, this is a book every aviation loving pilot, student pilot, or wanna be pilot, regardless of sex or age, should treat themselves to.
The Forward, penned by Sparky Barnes (aviation author and photographer) begins “The only typewritten manuscript for this book was presumed lost for more than 50 years until one momentus day in May 2022 when it was discovered fully intact. Packed away in a box for decades, this is a beautifully descriptive account of learning to fly in the early 1960s.”
Flashback to August 1960 and follow along with Ann as she describes her first airplane ride, which coincidentally was also her first flying lesson. The aircraft – a 1946 Aeronca Champ, a tandem, two-place, stick and rudder, wood and fabric taildragger, piloted from the front seat. No radio, no navigation equipment, just Ann and her instructor Jim, hollering back and forth, above the loud drone of the engine, communicating best they could without modern day noise-cancelling headsets. Follow along as Ann relays with vivid descriptions what each and every flight entailed; the maneuvers, the emotions of a young woman aloft and at the controls, random thoughts about her ever changing confidence level, short lasted successes and failures, and the comical, well documented dynamics of a gruff instructor and his younger female student pilot.
The book is contained within 180 pages and tells the year long adventure and excitement of Ann earning her pilot’s certificate. I believe this book tells the story of what each certified pilot would truly love to have; a document of long forgotten thoughts, fears, emotions, triumps and occasional failures for each flight recorded in our student pilot logbooks.
The book is filled with tidbits like instructor Jim pulling the throttle back on take-off and announcing “Engine failure, what you going to do?” That ’emergency’ ended successfully for Ann but she vowed to keep a tighter grip on the throttle next time. Then Jim couldn’t chop the power! The well described reactions within Ann’s head in response to Jim’s ongoing requests are hilarious and kept me smiling throughout the book.
Ann’s book The Sky And I is timeless and a piece of aviation history recorded for this and future generations. Available at SPECIALBOOKS.COM.

Available at

1 Comment
  • Sharon Tinkler
    Posted at 15:59h, 28 August Reply

    Ann’s latest book is a gift!! When Ann was learning to fly in the early sixties, she wrote in her journal after each lesson….and then decided to write this book 50 years later! It is a joy to read! New pilots will realize they are not alone in their thoughts, feelings, frustrations and elation. Old pilots will recognize themselves on every page….especially the lady pilots. Regardless of our ratings and flight experience, we all need the occasional reminder that the principles are still the same, and they will never fail you when all the technology “hits the fan”. Fast forward to today and enjoy knowing that Ann Pellegreno went on to fly and complete Amelia Earhart’s world flight on its 30th anniversary in the sixties….a mere 6 years after she had earned her Private Pilot certificate. (She wrote about that flight in a book, “World Flight the Earhart Trail”) Personally, I have ordered 4 more copies to pass out to new and old friends who are beginning their flying journey. It is a precious gift to us all!!

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