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Champions of Flight (Hardback)

Clayton Knight and William Heaslip: Artists Who Chronicled Aviation from the Great War to Victory in WWII

Aviation > Aviation Biography & Memoirs

By Sheryl Fiegel, Theodore Hamady
Imprint: Casemate Publishers
Pages: 304
Illustrations: 220 color images, 200 b/w images
ISBN: 9781612007793
Published: 30th November 2019



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Champions of Flight celebrates the work of Clayton Joseph Knight (1891–1969) and William John Heaslip (1898–1970), the two preeminent American aviation artists of their time, who chronicled the golden age of aviation (1927–1945) – from Charles Lindbergh's epochal transatlantic flight through the most devastating war in world history. Knight and Heaslip were experienced military men and formally trained artists who, combining an authenticity of experience and an artistic mastery of illustration, produced powerful artwork that influenced a generation of Americans, creating air-minded adults and youngsters, many of whom flocked to US military service after Pearl Harbor.


Aviation became deeply embedded into America’s culture during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Americans became fascinated by aviation celebrities, watched air spectacles, aviation movies and newsreels, and devoured books, aviation industry ads, magazine articles, and Sunday comics featuring pilot heroes. Artists Knight and Heaslip – both of whom were adept as draftsmen, painters and printmakers – fuelled the imagination of these Americans through prolific illustrations and artwork that appeared in many diverse publications of the time. Over a period of almost twenty years, Clayton Knight and William Heaslip championed their love of flight through their art, and they did so with enthusiasm, integrity, and generosity. This book, featuring over 400 illustrations and photos, is a tribute to their legacy.

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About Sheryl Fiegel

Sheryl Fiegel is an art historian with a BA degree in Art History and an MA degree in Fine Arts (Art History) from Tufts University. She has had a varied career, including gallerist, fine art appraiser (ASA), independent curator and corporate art advisor. She served as head of the Air Force Art Collection during which time she organized a five-day multi-service tribute to honor combat artists of WWII. It was through her research on this project that Fiegel first came into contact with the work of Clayton Knight and William Heaslip.

About Theodore Hamady

Theodore Hamady studied Modern European History at the University of Michigan. He is an historian and author of the highly acclaimed The Nieuport 28, America’s First Fighter, and has published numerous articles and contributed to books on aviation history and aviation art. He is an avid collector of aviation art and associated memorabilia. He recently contributed artifacts and assisted in the production of the WWI A.E.F. Art Gallery exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM). Recognized as an “Outstanding Volunteer” by NASM, he is presently completing 29 years of service there as a research historian.

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