Innovation and the Development of Flight

Texas A&M University Press
Free sample

Perhaps no technological development in the century has more fundamentally transformed human life than the airplane and its support apparatus. The nature of flight, and the activities that it has engendered throughout the world, makes the development of aviation technology an important area of investigation. Why did aeronautical technology take the shape it did? Which individuals and organizations were involved in driving it? What factors influenced particular choices of technologies to be used? More importantly, how has innovation affected this technology?

Innovation and the Development of Flight, a first strike at the “new aviation history,” represents a significant transformation of the field by relating the subject to larger issues of society, politics, and culture, taking a more sophisticated view of the technology that few historians have previously attempted.

This volume moves beyond a focus on the artifact to emphasize the broader role of the airplane and, more importantly, the entire technological system. This suggests that many unanswered questions are present in the development of modern aviation and that inquisitive historians seek to know the relationships of technological systems to the human mind.

Some of the subjects discussed are early aeronautical innovation and government patronage; the evolution of relationships among airports, cities, and industry; the relationship of engine development to the entire aviation industry; the Department of Commerce’s influence on light plane development; pressure in the Air Force for the development of jet engines; and lessons of the National Aerospace Plane Program.

Aviation historians and historians of technology will find Innovation and the Development of Flight a valuable examination of aeronautical innovation providing foundations for continued explorations of this field.
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About the author

Roger D. Launius is chief historian, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He has written or edited more than twenty books.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Texas A&M University Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 1999
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Pages
335
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ISBN
9780890968765
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Language
English
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Genres
Technology & Engineering / Aeronautics & Astronautics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The #1 New York Times bestseller from David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize—the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly—Wilbur and Orville Wright.

On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two brothers—bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio—changed history. But it would take the world some time to believe that the age of flight had begun, with the first powered machine carrying a pilot.

Orville and Wilbur Wright were men of exceptional courage and determination, and of far-ranging intellectual interests and ceaseless curiosity. When they worked together, no problem seemed to be insurmountable. Wilbur was unquestionably a genius. Orville had such mechanical ingenuity as few had ever seen. That they had no more than a public high school education and little money never stopped them in their mission to take to the air. Nothing did, not even the self-evident reality that every time they took off, they risked being killed.

In this “enjoyable, fast-paced tale” (The Economist), master historian David McCullough “shows as never before how two Ohio boys from a remarkable family taught the world to fly” (The Washington Post) and “captures the marvel of what the Wrights accomplished” (The Wall Street Journal). He draws on the extensive Wright family papers to profile not only the brothers but their sister, Katharine, without whom things might well have gone differently for them. Essential reading, this is “a story of timeless importance, told with uncommon empathy and fluency…about what might be the most astonishing feat mankind has ever accomplished…The Wright Brothers soars” (The New York Times Book Review).
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