Scamehorn’s history of aviation in Illinois covers such topics as amateur pilots, aviation contests and meets, the development of airmail, military aeronautics, commercial air transport, the expansion of airports, flyers and flying achievements, and state and federal regulation of aeronautics. But Balloons to Jets is not just a history of aviation in one state. Scamehorn also traces national and international aviation progress from the free balloon to the dirigible. He then describes aeronautical activities and experiments by such people as Octave Chanute, Glenn Curtiss, Thomas Scott Baldwin, Otto Lilienthal, Samuel Pierpont Langley, and others that lent support to the Wrights’ flight at Kitty Hawk. Of interest to both armchair aviation enthusiasts and professionals, Scamehorn’s study illustrates the evolution of commercial aviation from its origins with the military and the itinerant flyer to Charles Lindbergh’s successful transatlantic trip in 1927 and the subsequent explosion in public interest in flight.
Balloons to Jets is lavishly illustrated with eighty-six black-and-white historic photographs of early aviators and a range of flying craft, including hot-air balloons, dirigibles, gliders, biplanes, monoplanes, bombers, and early luxury transports. This reprint features a new foreword by Gene Abney, the former director of the Illinois Department of Aeronautics.