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Realizing the Dream of Flight: Biographical Essays in Honor of the Centennial of Flight, 1903-2003
Edited By Virginia P. Dawson and Mark D. Bowles
Published 2005


Realizing the Dream of Flight examines the lives of aerospace pioneers through the lens of biography. They include daredevil pilots, entrepreneurs, military strategists, and managers of large-scale aerospace technology-people who advanced the art, science, and business of air and space travel, often through sheer force of character.

Biographies in this volume include those of Bessie Coleman, the first African-American pilot, by Amy Sue Bix; Amelia Earhart, by feminist historian Susan Ware; and airplane designer Donald Douglas, by Roger Bilstein. William Leary explores the relationship between Juan Trippe and Charles Lindbergh, early visionaries of international air travel, while W. David Lewis describes the rotorcraft experiments carried out by Eddie Rickenbacker and his pilot Johnny Miller to fly mail. Military historian Alan L. Gropman discusses how Benjamin O. Davis, a black general who commanded the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, fought the racism of the Army Air Corps, while Tami Biddle critically assesses the personality and achievements of Cold War strategist Curtis E. LeMay.

Dreamers and Doers of the age of space in this volume includeWilly Ley, an ardent and early promoter of space travel, by Tom D. Crouch; the German rocket pioneer Wernher von Braunn, by Andrew J. Dunar; and two less well-known but significant contributors to NASA's space program, Robert Gilruth, by Roger Launius, and Hugh Dryden, by Michael Gorn. The final paper in this collection, by Edward J. Pershey, serves as an epilogue as well as a tribute to the Wright brothers. It describes a reenactment of their important glider experiments at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where the Wrights' childhood dream was first realize.

    Published Reviews: "For historians of aviation this book is a valuable reference. It is also a useful introduction to the variety of topics available for researchers in the broad field of aerospace."
    --Eric M. Conway, Technology & Culture (January 2007).