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Posted on March 29, 2016 at 11:23 AM by Craig Jacobson
Man has dreamed of flying for many years. The Greek myth of Icarus tells how he flew too close to the sun and the heat of the sun melted the wax on his feathers and he crashed to the sea. Around the 5th century, the Chinese flew kites. In 875, using silk, wood, and feathers, Abbas ibn Firmas of Spain glided for a short while after jumping off a cliff. He had calculated his take off and flight, but had failed to think of how he would safely land. He survived the crash, but never attempted another flight. The first hot air balloon that carried passengers launched in Paris in 1783. Sir George Cayley would build and fly the first glider in 1853 in Yorkshire, England. Many more would try and fail to build the first successful airplane. Finally, in 1903, two brothers from Dayton, Ohio would succeed where so many others had failed. With only a high school education, these two invented a three-axis control, which allowed the pilot to steer the aircraft and maintain the equilibrium of the plane. Pulitzer Prize winning author, David McCullough, tells their dramatic story in, The Wright Brothers.
One of the best known pioneers of aviation was Charles Lindbergh. Two British aviators had already successfully crossed the Atlantic as a team, but Lindbergh did it alone and between two international cities. The Flight of the Century describes Lindbergh’ and how it became a turning point for the aviation world.
Calculated Risk: the extraordinary life of Jimmy Doolittle, aviation pioneer and World War ll hero, tells the extraordinary life of anther barnstormer who won every major air race at least once. Jimmy Dolittle would go on to become a four-star general who would lead the Tokyo Raid in World War II.
The Aviators is another book that tells the story of Lindbergh and Dolittle, as well as that of Eddie Rickenbacher. Eddie was known as America’s Ace of Aces during World War l and at its conclusion, had 26 victories. Rickenbacher again served America during World War ll, this time as a civilian, and would later become the head of Eastern Airlines.
An incredible true story of combat and chivalry in the skies during World War ll is recounted in A Higher Call. Twenty-one-year-old pilot Charlie Brown is flying his first mission over Germany when his plane is badly damaged. On his tail is a German Messerschmitt flown by 2nd Lieutenant Franz Stiger, a former airline pilot from Bavaria who sought to avoid fighting in the war. That should have been the end of the story, but it continues 47 years later.
While men accounted for most of the action in World War ll, we can’t forget about the Women Airforce Service Pilots, otherwise known as WASP pilots. Almost 2000 women flew cargo planes, bombers, and fighters in some of World War ll’s most dangerous missions and their lives are depicted in Those Wonderful Women in Their Flying Machines.
And of course, the history of aviation would be remiss if one did not include Amelia Earhart. She was the 16th woman to be issued a pilot’s license and she set many records, including the one for being the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. On her attempt to fly around the world solo, her plane disappeared on July 2, 1937. Did she run out of fuel or did something else happen? W. C. Jameson tries to answer that question in his book, Amelia Earhart: beyond the grave. If you would like to know more about Amelia, you might want to join us here at the library on Tuesday, April 5th at 6:00 P.M. in the Tolzman Community Room. Actress Leslie Goddard will give a performance of Amelia Earhart as she talks about Earhart’s life and fascination with flying.
Happy reading and see you on April 5th!
Pictures courtesy of Easicat.