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The Trans-Atlantic Pioneers (Hardback)

From First Flights to Supersonic Jets – The Battle to Cross the Atlantic

Aviation Civil Aviation

By Bruce Hales-Dutton
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 229
ISBN: 9781526732170
Published: 13th February 2019


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Every day up to 3,000 aircraft fly across the Atlantic Ocean. If each one carries 250 passengers, that could mean as many as 750,000 people on the move between Europe and North America.

The main concern for most is the choice of in-flight movie or whether to have beef or chicken for dinner. A century ago it was very different. Before John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown’s epic flight of June 1919 no such journey had been attempted and they could not know what to expect.

Of course, it took all the guts and determination the two men could muster but there was something else. Alcock and Brown were true professionals. Both had thought very deeply about the challenges facing them and both were determined to leave nothing to chance. In the background was the £10,000 prize offered by Lord Northcliffe, whose generosity represented a potent incentive for pioneer aviators.

Inevitably, the names of Alcock and Brown have become synonymous with that first trans-Atlantic flight. They were the first but by no means the last of the trans-Atlantic pioneers. There were many others, some of whom are just as celebrated, while others have sunk into obscurity.

His Majesty’s airship R-34, for example, made the first flight from east to west and followed that up with the first return crossing. Charles Lindbergh made the first flight from the North American mainland to that of Europe. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to make a solo crossing.

In the 1930s the German Zeppelins, which only a few years earlier had been terrifying London with their bombs, were offering the first regular commercial flights. They proved popular despite their high cost and the ever-present threat of immolation – eventually realised – caused by the inflammable hydrogen used as a lifting agent.

It took the demands of war to prove that the Atlantic could be crossed regularly by heavier-than-air craft and pave the way for the post-war commercial operations that followed. In the 1950s came the first jets, followed by the first supersonic airliners.

Still the pioneering went on: the first cut-price operations and the first by the twin-engine jets that brought undreamed-of flexibility to long-distance travel and now dominate the trans-Atlantic airways.

And the pioneering on what is still the world’s busiest and most prestigious intercontinental air route will continue. Who, the book concludes by asking, will operate the first airliner featuring hybrid power, the first fully autonomous machine, the first to use other than fossil fuel?

Will the next hundred years be exciting as those truly pioneering days of the past?

This is an easy to read and informative book without being too much to trudge through. Fans of airlines and classic airliners will enjoy many of the chapters.

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Airport Spotting

This is a mighty story of technical, economic, political and diplomatic challenges being overcome, of bravery and of visionaries. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

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Flying in Ireland

This is a mighty story of technical, economic, political and diplomatic challenges being overcome, of bravery and of visionaries. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Ulster Aviation Society

A fascinating and impressively informative history of the developing technology of aircraft based trans-Atlantic crossings. A seminal and welcome addition to community and college Aviation History collections and supplemental studies curriculum lists, "The Trans-Atlantic Pioneers" is especially commended to the attention of non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.

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Midwest Book Review
Perfect Partner

Race Across the Atlantic Alcock and Brown's Record-Breaking Non-Stop Flight (Hardback)

It was Tuesday, 15 June 1919 and for the residents of Clifden on Ireland’s west coast this was not to be a normal day. Just before 08.40 hours, descending out of the gloom, came a large, twin-engine aeroplane lining up for final approach. One or two on-lookers recognised the danger straight away for this was an area of soft bog, but their attempts to alert the pilot were in vain. The aircraft began to sink and, with a squelch, came to a sudden stop, the tail rearing up in the air. Dazed and with fuel filling the cockpit the two-man crew scrambled out, grabbing what they could. After a flight…

By Colin Higgs, Bruce Vigar

Click here to buy both titles for £35.99
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