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The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  324 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
This is the fascinating story of the dream of a completely new aircraft, a hybrid of the plane and the rigid airship - huge, wingless, moving slowly through the lower sky. John McPhee chronicles the perhaps unfathomable perseverance of the aircraft's sucessive progenitors
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published July 9th 1973 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1963)
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I remember when, years ago, long before I retired, a guy came into the library and wanted some really obscure information on Ferris Wheels. I got to talking with him and over the years we became friends. He had some kind of menial job, working at KFC or something, but he was absolutely obsessed with Ferris Wheels and knew just about everything you can imagine about their history and how they work. He was thrilled when we managed to dig up the arcane material he sought.

I've always secretly admire
I'm not sure that a reader without a modicum of technical knowledge concerning aviation -- a working vocabulary of aeronautics and an understanding of the rudiments of flying -- would enjoy this as much as I did. My father is a retired aeronautical engineer, a lifelong model airplane designer/builder/racer, a private pilot, and the the one who taught me my first word: "airplane", and I've been flying in and fascinated by small planes my whole life, with one flight lesson to my credit as well, so ...more
Mar 22, 2012 Ilya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: engineering
In 1958, a Presbyterian minister from New Jersey had a vision of using dirigibles for missionary work in remote parts of the world: transporting goods and people cheaply and efficiently. The next year, he and a retired naval aviator founded a company called AEREON, honoring a 19th-century American airship. It built a trimaran airship, the world's first rigid airship since the Zeppelins of the 1930s. Unfortunately, in 1966 during taxiing trials a gust of wind overturned the aircraft; the pilots j ...more
Oct 13, 2010 Robin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not as intriguing as Who Killed The Electric Car, but good.
This was a quick, easy, random read that I picked up in a bar in Nicaragua. It had an odd cover and it looked a bit like science fiction but claimed to be a true story, so I decided to give it a read.

Not only does in contain a short, but thorough-feeling summary of airship usage in United States history and slightly abroad, it also reveals astounding facts about the usage and stats of airships that once dominated the sky, and makes me really, really want to ride in a dirigible.

The only thing dis
Reuben Alcatraz
Sep 10, 2008 Reuben Alcatraz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first McPhee book I read, and probably my favorite. It concerns the research and development of a hybrid aircraft combining lighter-than-air technology with airfoils. The science/math parts of the book are the typical McPhee "gee whiz, I didn't know this stuff could be so exciting," but where this book really shines are the characterizations of the team working on the Aereon. Theologians, test pilots, retired blimp men. John McPhee will often find friendly, competent, and reasonably ...more
Oct 05, 2009 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Sometimes, you watch a movie, or you read a book, and you feel compelled to find out as much as you can on your own about the topics afterwards.

I thought, and was almost worried, that this might happen with Founding Fish....but it didn't.

It did happen this time. I hadn't encountered a McPhee before that had so much entertainment or such a compelling story.

And though I loved that, it doesn't make me rate it higher because it was more of a story and a little less scholarship?
Wow, that took me awhile to finish. Not that the book was slow, just I haven't had time to read as much lately. The introduction of aereon flight seemed so close in our history, and yet it seemed doomed from the start. I was almost let down that the real reason that the company failed was never really discussed. Unless no one really knew!
Feb 17, 2011 kit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
yes yes yes. true account of a team of retired navy guys and ministers who, with almost no money, were trying to build an aerobody craft (slightly heavier than air, takes off like a plane, flies like a blimp, top speed ~60mph.) seriously, email me and i'll ship you my copy. so good.
Mar 22, 2008 Jimcgold rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
the story of a completely new aircraft that flies aerodynamically. The facts unfold in the 1970's. McPhee gets into the characters and the project with wry wit and perspective.
Mar 11, 2011 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Strange story with even stranger characters. The story follows a group of relative oddballs as they try to usher in a new era of air transport. McPhee delights as usual.
Mar 29, 2011 sophie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
McPhee at his worst-- hard to follow and overly technical. Which is saying a lot for the level of involvment that McPhee generally displays with his subjects.
Eric Buhrer
Jul 06, 2013 Eric Buhrer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ideal of lighter-than-air lifting bodies seems to be gaining currency again.
Just couldn't get my head around this one. I will have to try again later on.
Jul 15, 2013 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Glory and heartbreak as engineers try to revive lighter-than-air flight.
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John McPhee was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and was educated at Princeton University and Cambridge University. His writing career began at Time magazine and led to his long association with the New Yorker, where he has been a staff writer since 1965. The same year he published his first book, A Sense of Where You Are, with FSG, and soon followed with The Headmaster (1966), Oranges (1967), The P ...more
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