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Book Reviews: A Wright Brothers Twofer

March 14, 2017 Leave a comment

The Wright Brothers on Amazon.com

I was cruising along in this bio and unexpectedly slammed head-on into the epilogue–well before Wilbur died and all of the patent hassles with Glenn Curtiss, et al.  This book is less a history than an outstanding tribute to the Wright Brothers’ accomplishment, ending in 1910 with the first and only flight Wilbur and Orville ever made together at the pinnacle of their acclaim, having showcased their Flyer in Europe and America. Being familiar with their story, what McCullough really captured for me was the impact on the times had by an invention we now take for granted.  (5 of 5 Stars)

 

I started my reading journey through the history of aviation with Orville Wright’s first hand account of how he and Wilbur invented the airplane. It is an amazingly clear and concise telling of how the airplane came to be.  A great read for both pilots and ground pounders with lots of drawings and pics that I had to see again after reading McCullough’s book.  (5 of 5 Stars)

 


 

“On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong, another American born and raised in western Ohio, stepped onto the moon, he carried with him, in tribute to the Wright brothers, a small swatch of the muslin from a wing of their 1903 Flyer. “

 

Excerpt From: The Wright Brothers by David McCullough.

 

 

Supermarine Spitfire Mk.III

March 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Defence of the Realm

Spitfire III 2

The legend of the Supermarine Spitfire was forged in the skies over Britain during the summer of 1940. The graceful looking aircraft made it easy for the British media spindoctors to turn R.J. Mitchell’s design in to an unbeatable weapon of war as far as the public image was concerned but this hid the truth that already its shortcomings were becoming obvious even before the Battle of Britain and the early Spitfire Mk.I and the slightly improved Mk.II would need replacing by 1941.

The Supermarine engineers returned to the drawing board and looked at almost every aspect of the aircraft taking in to account the lessons learned from the early experiences in service. Assigned the in-house designation of Supermarine Type 330 the Spitfire Mk.III would need to be faster than its predecessors in order to allow it to keep up with the latest German fighters and to achieve that the…

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More than love

February 15, 2017 Leave a comment

airscape Magazine

Ernest K. Gann (1920 – 1981)

Of course Ernest K. Gann should need no introduction to the aviation enthusiast ( – in every pilot, or the pilot in every enthusiast). But time marches on and knowledge falls off, so it’s worth making sure Fate Is The Hunter remains at the top of the ‘must read’ lists.

For many years, tattered copies of Fate lived in countless flight bags; even more so than battered copies of Top Gun lived in the lockers of Naval aviators.

It always was essential reading for pilots, and it still is.

Ernest K Gann Quote

Here, Gann is describing his class of already qualified commercial pilots who are filling hard-won places on a United Airlines induction course. They will suffer, they will sweat; they would starve and they would sleep rough – but they wouldn’t consider any other line of work.

And, while the setting is 1930s America, the full…

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Georgie’s Girl

January 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Capt. Charles Schild shot down 2 Zeros & a bomber at Guadalcanal in Wildcat fighter plane during WW II

January 25, 2017 Leave a comment

War Tales

For Capt. Charles Schild (Ret.) of southwest Florida, World War II was divided into two parts — the uninteresting  part and the interesting part.

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The way a pilot feels

January 4, 2017 1 comment

airscape Magazine

Oilman, industrialist, investor, visionary… William T Piper has as much right to claim the title ‘Father of General Aviation’ as anyone.

His long insistence on making aircraft that were cheap to buy and easy to fly brought thousands of people into flying. What’s more, his insightful strategy of making learning to fly as cheap as possible is a lesson in GA promotion that’s as instructive as ever.

William T Piper quote Amen! (Click to save a large, hi-res version for yourself.)

Unlike a lot of aviation giants, Mr Piper wasn’t irrevocably bitten by the aviation bug in his youth. He was born in 1881 in Knapp Creek NY, a prototypical rural setting on the NY/Pennsylvania border, and he never felt the need to move far from home.

The giant…

From age nine, he helped his father ride the coat-tails of the booming oil business, repairing well pumps. Then, in 1898 he lied about his…

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‘In the Mood’ for aviation nostalgia?

November 30, 2016 Leave a comment

Aviation Trails

Taking advantage of the winter sun and nearby location, I decided to take a short visit to one of the earlier trails and see how things had changed. Being a different time of year too, perhaps the buildings I saw would now be less obscured. I also thought that the initial trails were lacking and needed a little ‘historical substance’.

Whilst not wanting to lose sight of the idea behind the blog, I felt a little extra would not go amiss. Hearing about a memorial that I had missed earlier, I braved the late December air, donned coat, hat and scarf and set off to Kings Cliffe, in the top corner of Northamptonshire – land of Fighter squadrons and the last hangar concert performed by Major Glenn Miller.

RAF Kings Cliffe (Station 367)

(Revisited and updated December 2014)

DSC_0169 The Memorial at Kings Cliffe.

Unlike the other airfields in the tour…

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