N4L 157: "Flying Free" by Cecilia Aragon


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By Janet Perry, Janet Perry: blogger, and Nonfiction book lover. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Author Cecilia Rodriguez Aragon, once a shy, timid child riddled by fear, shares her breakout memoir, Flying Free: My Victory over Fear to Become the First Latina Pilot on the US Aerobatic Team. Her book, 20 years in the making, features Aragon facing her fears head-on through learning to fly. With fierce determination matching her mathematical superpower, she becomes the first Latina pilot to secure a place on the United States Unlimited Aerobatic Team. But her journey to "flying free" includes much, much more. Aragon not only overcomes her fear but she also conquers racial and gender prejudices as well as her own mental barriers to getting a Ph.D. in engineering from UC Berkeley.


  • Life is unfair.
  • Women are often taught to abdicate authority and not be in command.
  • Change usually happens gradually, one day at a time, through doing daily, small, challenging tasks.
  • Visualization costs nothing but is a very effective way of honing skills.
  • Saying “no” to things too many times boxes us into a safe, boring life.


  • “I had been living a very narrow life and letting my fear define me, and then, at one point, I realized that living life too safely was dangerous for my spirit, and I decided to do something that was terrifying to me.”
  • “Flying became my art, my science, and my passion. I used my training in math to optimize split-second performances in the air.”
  • “Everybody has something that can help them achieve anything.”
  • “When you face your fears, and triumph over them, life opens up before you, becomes more exciting, larger, and more vibrant.”
  • “I’ve learned this about having a dream: It doesn’t matter if you tell anybody or not. What matters is that you make some progress in that direction every day.”

BUY Flying Free: My Victory Over Fear to Become the First Latina Pilot on the US Aerobatic Team


Listen to Nonfiction4life Episode 86: Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien

Listen to Nonfiction4life Episode 137: Limitless Mind by Dr. Jo Boaler

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