By Beryl Markham
A lot of people know about Amelia Earhart, but few have heard of aviator Beryl Markham. Her parents were Europeans who settled in Africa. She emerges into adulthood very independent—she's described as a white woman with an African heart. When the love of her life goes to England, she announces that she's going to pilot a plane to London to see him. She's welcomed as a hero because she's the first woman to have flown from Africa to Europe. After her lover marries, she makes the first crossing west from England to North America—a flight that was believed to be impossible. West with the Night eventually took me to Kenya: I spent a month researching Markham's life for a potential film, meeting people who knew her, flying with bush pilots over zebras and hippos and rock formations.