Sara's Reviews > Jet Age: The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World

Jet Age by Sam Howe Verhovek
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Nov 15, 10

bookshelves: first-reads, history, own
Read from October 15 to 31, 2010

I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.

Flying on a jet isn't something anyone thinks much about, but in the not-so-distant past, the airlines weren't even sure that jets were something that passengers would want or need. The evolution of air travel has seemed so natural, it never even occurred to me that there would even be a question as to whether or not to build commercial jets. It's amazing how much things have changed in such a short time.

Jet Age is the history of the birth of high-speed air travel. Before jet airlines, it took much longer to get where you were going, there were more stops... and oh yeah, it was riskier! The de Havilland Comet and the Boeing 707 changed all of that. Well, at least the death part--the Comet was a design that was ahead of its time, but it had a fatal flaw that led to several accidents.

Learning about the engineering of jet planes was cool, but what was most fascinating to hear about was the people who ushered in the jet age--de Havilland owner and aircraft enthusiast Geoffrey de Havilland (who stuck with planes after losing two sons in plane accidents in de Havilland planes); Bill Allen, Boeing lawyer-turned president; and high-flying loose cannon "Tex" Johnson, test pilot extraordinaire (inspiration for the character Major T. J. "King" Kong in Dr. Strangelove.

This is a short history that pretty much ensures that you'll never take a quick trip by commercial jet for granted again.
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