Flying Free: My Victory Over Fear to Become the First Latina Pilot on the US Aerobatic Team
The poet Mary Oliver once asked, “are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”
Cecilia Aragon’s memoir, Flying Free, is a story that begins with such a life. The daughter of a Chilean father and a Filipina mother, Cecilia is taunted and bullied throughout her childhood in a small Indiana town during the 1960s. Her teachers dismiss her because of her ethnicity, even though she excels academically and shows a strong aptitude for math. Not surprisingly, Cecilia grows into an insecure and frightened young woman. She is afraid of heights and can barely ride an elevator, and by her mid-twenties, has dropped out of her Ph.D. program for fear of not being good enough. Until she discovers how to fly.
Flying Free reads like a true underdog story in the little-known and dangerous sport of aerobatic flying. From her first flying lessons, to purchasing a plane and performing at air shows, flying becomes like breathing to Cecilia. Her ability to overcome her fears is inspiring as she struggles with finances, her marriage, self-doubt, and being one of the few female pilots—and only Latinx pilot—to attain a place on the US Aerobatic Team. Her story is an inspiration for all of us to take that full breath of life.
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