Airplane Stories and Histories: Volume 1
by Norman Currey

"War—potential, threatened, or ongoing—has been the primary mover in aviation development—because defense departments provide fairly risk-free funds."

Author Norman Currey, a career aeronautical engineer and Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, has produced a large, detailed, colorful look at manned flight—its history of the past 200 years and its current possibilities. American readers will learn that though the Wright brothers did indeed take the first airplane on its first flight, it was the experimentation of Englishman Sir George Cayley that facilitated the Wrights’ understanding of the principles involved. Currey examines the first transatlantic flights and the competitions that spurred such memorable pilots as Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart to remarkable achievements, resulting in significant leaps of progress in airplane design. He hones in on the production of planes specifically for warfare: the Mosquito, aka the Mossie, was produced starting in 1936 in a secret location in England and would eventually be used by air forces in 14 countries; the Spitfire first saw action in the Battle of Britain, followed by the Mustang, created in America for Britain’s air force in just 117 days.

Throughout this fascinating volume, Currey offers his lively insider’s knowledge to his plethora of technological facts. He reveals, for example, that during World War II, Lockheed opened a mysterious plant called the Skunk Works—named for a moonshine still mentioned in a comic strip of the day—so “Skunk Works” became synonymous with any secretive production activities. Currey’s portraits of Lindbergh, Earhart, Wiley Post, and others lend personal touches to a book that might otherwise be mainly technical and scientific. The many photos within the text demonstrate the advances in airplane shape, size, and use—from the Wright brothers’ little biplane to huge modern passenger airbuses to small but deadly warplanes. Geared to both the technically informed and the avid armchair pilot, this book is an essential addition to the library of manned flight.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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