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American history

Chasing Icarus: The Seventeen Days in 1910 That Forever Changed American Aviation

Gavin Mortimer.
Publisher Walker  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
ISBN 9780802717115
Pages/Publication Date 305/2009
Daedalus Item Code 31877
List Price: $26.00
Sale Price: $5.98 $4.98
You Save: $21.02
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By 1910, just seven years after the Wright brothers first took off at Kitty Hawk, America and the world were transfixed by the challenge of mastering the air. Dirigibles, balloons, and airplanes vied for primacy in the race for sporting and military success—a contest that was settled over a few weeks in October of that year, posits Gavin Mortimer. Also the author of Double Death and The Great Swim, Mortimer vividly recounts three events that defined a pivotal moment in aviation: the attempt by the dirigible America to make the first air crossing of the Atlantic; the Gordon Bennett International Balloon Cup race, to be won by the crew that flew the farthest; and a death-defying airplane race over Belmont Park in New York.

"Those magnificent men in their flying machines were active in October 1910.... The front-page celebrities of the moment, these aeronauts excited popular interest that Mortimer, capitalizing on archives and contemporary gazettes, restores excellently. No detail, from flying togs to picnic hampers to society gossip, was too tangential for reporters to note. Such period detail embroiders Mortimer's narrative arcs, of which the first two are straightforward: that dirigible's crew was rescued at sea, and the balloonists came down in Canadian wilds and elsewhere to wend their ways back to civilization. In contrast, the airplane meet was a harum-scarum drama with wealthy sportsmen—which most entrants besides businessmen Orville and Wilbur Wright were—wrecking their machines and retreating to hotels or hospitals as necessary. For fans of death-defying early aviation, Mortimer's history is great fun."—Booklist

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