Judith E. Spörl

Book Review

Written by Helge Zembold, © magazine segelfliegen


Young, Female, Glider Pilot


There are plenty of classic “Girl’s Books” out there, but scarcely any books about gliding for young people. Teenage girls love to bury themselves in a book, but does it always have to be about horses? Not according to air traffic controller and glider pilot Judith Spörl. With her book Lena Earns Her Wings, Spörl sets out to enthuse potential future women pilots with the joy of flight.


The author contends that girls from 10 to 15 will take to other activities in literature, if they can see their own daily lives and concerns reflected in the story. So Lena, the protagonist of her book, is a typical teenager: In year 8 at school, living in a blended family, romanticizing about boys. When her best friend Kim moves to Berlin, Lena has to find something else to keep her busy.

Her father, a professional and PPL pilot, takes her along to the airfield. There, Lena meets the ubiquitous bunch of eccentric club mates we all know and love: from the pimply fledglings and ambitious students nearly ready for their licence exam, right through to the quirky but loveable flying instructor. Lena takes her first flight in a glider – and from that moment on, one thing is certain: Lena wants to fly.

The reader follows Lena through her first season on the airfield, shares the thrill of her first solo flight and experiences great achievements and minor setbacks along with the whole club. The issue of boys takes on quite a new significance in Lena’s life too. Judith Spörl manages to pull off the feat of imparting the feeling of a niche sport like gliding without resorting to condescending explanations or gratuitous technical terminology. A glossary at the end of the book explains the essentials. The reader is immersed in the world of gliding and quickly comes to understand how a teenager’s whole life can change so suddenly. Soon everything revolves around winch launches, thermals and the like and they can hardly wait for their next gliding flight. Spörl’s language is appropriate for the target audience without seeming excessively casual.

Whether Lena Earns Her Wings will generate a sudden influx of girls wanting to learn to fly remains to be seen. In any case it’s the perfect book for girls yearning to live the dream of flight. Parents of kids who fly might find it just as good, especially if they don’t fly themselves. It will certainly help them understand why gliding is so exceptional.

Publisher Tredition Hamburg, 248 pages, Illustrations by Doreen Goedhart, Translated by Brendan English

Available in E-Book (€ 4,99), Paperback (€ 11,99) und Hardcover

(€ 19,99)

ISBN Hardcover 978-3-7439-4677-4

More about the book and the author on www.lena-book.com