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Olympic Airways (Hardback)

A History

Aviation Civil Aviation

By Graham Simons
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781473883536
Published: 11th February 2019

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The Olympic Airways story has fascinated Graham M. Simons for many years. This new book represents the culmination of decades spent researching the history of this fascinating Greek airline. It is a story of evolution, conflict, personality and politics, all set against a backdrop of world and civil wars, coups and counter-coups.

During the course of his research, it became apparent to the author that many of the fine details pertaining to the company weren't widely known, although almost everyone had heard of the towering, controversial, leading figurehead who oversaw much of the central part of the story: Aristotle Socrates Onassis. His colourful life is threaded through this history, lending it drama and multiple levels of intrigue.

The airline's story cannot be told in isolation. Olympic did not spring fully formed into being in 1957. Its roots were set much further back in history, through a number of predecessor airlines - both national and international - who had been using the Hellenic Republic and Athina as the crossroads of the air for the Eastern Mediterranean since the dawn of aviation.

This is the story of the birth and dramatic life of an airline with a chequered, controversial and complicated history. Graham M. Simons has skilfully woven all the various threads to create a powerful and important historic record.

Readers with an interest in the early days of organized civil massair transport will enjoy having a familiar story be retold from a Greek perspective. Maps, photos, and ephemera augment the story and, ever the historian, Simons uses aircraft tail numbers and all manner of precise nomenclature and specs etc. for the flying apparatus.

Read the full review here

Speed Readers

This book is packed full of pictures and information which goes deep into the airline’s history and operations. It makes for a really fascinating read into what for me was just one of those classic carriers I remember from my younger days, but what was in reality a complex beast which should not be forgotten.

Read the full review here

Airport Spotting

I bought this as a present for my mom who says - "As an ex Olympic employee this book brings back memories and makes for a very fun read. I haven't finished it yet but I am definitely enjoying it."

Shirley Seligmann (Amazon review)

This is a magnificent 320 page hardback tribute book to Olympic Airways, Greece's national airline for so many years. Beautifully presented and printed on quality paper, it tells the story from the airline's beginnings up until its demise, with many good quality photographs of the aircraft and personalities, as well as being interspersed with scans of advertising and memorabilia on every page, mostly in colour. Appendixes at the back recall accidents and there is a full fleet listing of every aircraft Olympic operated and what became of them. I wish there were more books of this quality on classic long-serving airlines that lasted this long. Highly recommended.

Adrian Balch (Amazon Review)

The author Graham M. Simons presents a remarkable and well-researched history of Olympic Airways, one of Europe’s important air carriers, from its launch by oil magnate Aristotle Onassis in 1957 to its demise in 2009. Against the background of Greece’s political life, the evolution of Olympic Airways makes fascinating reading, with rare photos, timetable images, route maps and records of promotional material enhancing this flag carrier’s historical account.
A most welcome bonus is offered by the author with a detailed précis of the early years of Greek aviation to the emergence of air carriers including Hellenic Air Communications, Hellenic Airlines, AME and TAE. Rather select photos and timetable images round off the notable record of airlines during the pre-Olympic Airways era, while an overview of the post-OA years covers the successor companies Olympic Air – which took on a scaled-down operating pattern - plus Aegean Airlines. This book is highly recommended as it presents aviation enthusiasts not only with a much-needed Olympic Airways historical account, but also with an overview of Greek civil aviation as a whole.

KLAUS J D VOMHOF (Amazon review)
 Graham Simons

About Graham Simons

English professional aviation writer, publisher and historian Graham M Simons is one of the founders of the world famous aviation museum at Duxford near Cambridge where his interest was piqued watching the making of the ‘Battle of Britain’ film there in the late 1960’s and from the days when you could go ‘aircraft spotting’ at London Heathrow and other airports.

From this, and with an engineering background, he progressed to membership of a number of aviation societies, including sitting on the British Aviation Preservation Council, eventually taking the position of Engineering Director with one group. Here he was responsible for overseeing the restoration of a De Havilland DH89 Dragon Rapide airliner to flying condition and placing this aircraft - with official approval — in the colours and markings of the first aircraft of what was then the Kings Flight. It was during this period that he was contacted by Ian Allen Ltd to write the first ever history of this classic De Havilland type.

Other titles rapidly followed and with a growing number of contacts in both the military and airliners, Graham turned professional in 1987, combining his love of writing with his skills in production to create and publish aviation histories focussed on a variety of subjects.

He is the author of Howard Hughes and the Spruce Goose, Comet! The World’s First Jet Airliner, The Airbus A380: A History, and De Havilland Enterprises: A History, amongst many others published by Pen and Sword Books.

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