A History of Flying

A History of Flying

A History of Flying

A History of Flying

Excerpt

This book offers a short account of man's attempts to fly; of his dreams that preceded and accompanied the attempts; and of his ultimate success. The story begins in legend, and follows the centuries of speculation and endeavour that culminated in balloon flight at the end of the eighteenth century, and aeroplane flight at the beginning of the twentieth. The more detailed chronicle stops with the year 1914, when the first World War broke out. By this time aviation had taken its place as a new but practical method of locomotion.

In order to link the first two millennia of dreamers and pioneers with the flying of this generation, what amounts to a long postscript has been added to outline the spectacular development which has taken place over the past forty years. This postscript includes a note on space and interplanetary flight, which -- however distasteful or, indeed, improbable it may seem to many -- is now inevitable.

The reader may, perhaps, ask why so many words have been spent in describing the historical trivia of the air -- the romantic fantasies, the eccentric inventions, the reckless adventures and the senseless tragedies. The reason is that they, in their turn, have become part of aeronautical lore, part of the fabric of flying history; and they have also played their part in firing the imagination of later airmen -- a privilege shared with the greater deeds of discovery and triumph.

In the year 1785, the first English historian of the air, Tiberius Cavallo, commenced the Preface to his History and Practice of Aerostation by referring to 'The art of travelling through the air, lately discovered, and rapidly improved'. He ended that Preface with words I would echo now:

'Accuracy and perspicuity have been the Author's principal objects in the compilation of his work; but notwithstanding his endeavours, it is more than probable that some inaccuracies, and other . . .

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