Women in Aviation Conference

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Brock

Co-translator Margarita Ponomaryova and I spoke to a crowd of around 70 attendees of the Women in Aviation conference in Miami last spring about Anna Alexandrovna’s life and memoirs.

This was the first opportunity for Margarita and me to speak publically together about Yegorova’s life and about our work translating and editing the memoir. It was a real treat to share the presentation with Margarita, and it gave me a chance to observe how her charisma and storytelling held the audience hanging on every word. There was no watch-checking or shifting in seats as Margarita told the utterly silent and wide-eyed group about her experiences growing up in the Soviet Union, adding a personal context to the story of the Soviet women veterans that felt so much more credible and immediate than it would have coming from me.

Afterwards, I chatted with a soft-spoken young man who produces documentaries for the military; he talked animatedly about the screen potential of stories like Yegorova’s. We’ve since stayed in touch. And then a young military aviatrix approached, wanting to tell me how inspiring she found the story, and eager to share her own history: of a best friend and fellow female flyer who died in Iraq. I felt this incredible swelling of respect and regret rise in my throat, which I’m sure I didn’t express adequately to this amazing young woman, and I thought at that moment, This is why. The why of all those hours, months, and years, tucked away in our respective offices, Margarita and I, doing our best to help tell a story we hoped might matter to someone.

To Yegorova and to the many women warriors and flyers, past and present, whose stories so often go untold, we offer our gratitude.

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