The Airplane: How Ideas Gave Us Wings (Paperback)

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In this entertaining history of the jetliner, Jay Spenser traces aviation's challenges from the outset, and follows the flow of the simple yet powerful ideas that led us to defy gravity. Here are the pioneers—innovators such as Otto Lilienthal, Igor Sikorsky, Louis BlÉriot, Hugo Junkers, and Jack Northrop—whose amazing contributions collectively solved the puzzle of flight. Along the way, Spenser demystifies the modern jetliner, examining the airplane from wings to flight controls to fuselages to landing gear, to show how each part came into being and evolved over time. And finally The Airplane addresses the future of aviation, outlining the breathtaking possibilities that await us tomorrow, many miles above the earth.

  • Who were aviation's dreamers, and where did they get their inspiration?
  • How did birds, insects, marine mammals, and fish help us to fly?
  • How did the bicycle beget the airplane, and hot water heaters lead to metal fuselages?
  • Who figured out how to fly without seeing the ground, enabling airline travel in all weather conditions?

About the Author

Jay Spenser has spent a lifetime studying aviation as a museum curator at the National Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Flight, and as an aerospace industry writer. He is the co-author of 747 and lives in Seattle, Washington.

Praise For…

“A story with a new character and a new engineering problem on every other page, each served with a sense of delight in ideas that sent humanity aloft.”
-Seattle Times

“This is a written like an episode of the old TV show Connections, and is just as entertaining.”
-Sacramento Book Review

“A smart …history of a thrilling machine all too often taken for granted.”
-Publishers Weekly

“An engaging text…The lively writing and the number of photographs set it above many of its competitors.”
-Library Journal

Product Details
ISBN: 9780061259203
ISBN-10: 0061259209
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Publication Date: December 2009
Pages: 340
Language: English