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The Airplane: How Ideas Gave Us Wings

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  69 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
The Airplane by aerospace industry writer Jay Spencer, former assistant curator of the SmithsonianNationalAir & SpaceMuseum and the Museum of Flight in Seattle, is the definitive history of how we invented and refined the amazing flying machines that enabled humankind to defy gravity. A fascinating true account certain to enthrall and delight aviation and technology bu ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published October 16th 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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Ilya
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aviation
People have been dreaming of building machines that would fly like birds and bats at least since the time of Leonardo da Vinci. Something resembling what we now think of as the airplane was invented in 1799 by George Cayley, a Yorkshire baronet, who was the first to realize that a flying machine can have fixed wings providing lift separate from paddles providing forward thrust, unlike birds and bats, which use moving wings for both. Of course, the steam engines of his day did not have the power- ...more
Christopher
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aviation
This book is an excellent overview of the earliest days of flight. The text is highly readable and accessible to a general audience. The jet age is not covered in as much depth but the text does go up to the present with a chapter on the 787 Dreamliner. Highly recommended!
Daniel L.
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even Piece by Piece, an Airplane Is More Than the Sum of Its Parts

"It's a bird, it's a plane..." We all know what an airplane is and take the shape of these ubiquitous flying machines for granted (not to mention getting from place to place on one). That was not only the case. For centuries, man has dreamed of flying, but what a machine capable of enabling people to "escape the surly bonds of the Earth" should look like, no one could know. It should come to no surprise that many people thought th
...more
Pierre Lauzon
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a relatively short and highly readable book, Jay Spenser gives a comprehensive overview of the development of the Airplane. It begins with a discussion of Sir George Caley as the first person to conceive of the modern airplane, documented on a silver disc in 1799, a full century before the Wright Brothers made world history in December 1903.

The book ends with a discussion of the Boeing 787 and future concepts in aircraft such as the Blended Wing Body aircraft. The book has chapters on Configu
...more
M.T. Bass
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aviation
An extremely pleasant surprise, this book is not a traditional history of aviation, cataloging the different makes and models of aircraft through the years. Instead, Jay Spenser has authored the "biography" of a thing. And just as a man's character can be revealed through the trajectory of events and experiences on his path from youth to adulthood, the Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" is understood as the "grown-up" Wright Flyer achieved through a lifetime of technological advances. As a pilot and aviati ...more
Reading Reader
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spenser has written a good overview of the history of manned flight, taken from the various perspectives of different aircraft parts or systems.

After an initial overview of the early origins of manned flight, Spenser focuses each chapter on one particular part of the aircraft and traces the development of design in relation to that element. I appreciated this approach to dividing up the story of flight, but it also made each chapter a bit predictable: start with Cayley or the Wrights, and work
...more
Justin Bowen
Jun 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aviation
If you enjoy aviation and history, this book is a near perfect blend. Each chapter breaks down the invention and development of the different parts of the airplane. Spenser does a great job explaining the aspects of a plane or the process of operating one that has always made you wonder how they came about. Written with enough anecdotes and useful detail, it kept me entertained the entire way through.

Recommended for any pilot or aviation enthusiast.
John Kubalak
Mar 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If, like me, you're a serious aviation history geek then you will love this book. It breaks down the airplane literally piece by piece (wings, fuselage, engine, etc.) and examines the ideas and history behind how the airplane came together and became what we know today. It's well structured (see engine parts: above) and informative. And if you have an aviation jones (see above) then you will find it entertaining as well.
Converse
A historical discussion of the technical evolution of airplane, starting with George Cayley,an Englishman who worked on the theory and practice (with models) of flight in the late 1700s and 1800s, and ending with the Boeing dreamliner. Each chapter generally focuses one part (wing, fuselage, tail, etc) of an airplane.
Lucas
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was great, I loved the way it was written, I wish that all modern sciences had books like these, that provide a chronological, methodical progression from the early beginnings to current developments.
Carrie Bowers
May 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carrie by: Ben Kristy
Is on page 234....creeping at a snail's pace, but now that I am reading about items in our collection, it is more interesting. Sorry Ben.
Gil Cabrera
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. Second time reading. As an engineer this book covers technical facts in the form of good storytelling.
Jim Cunningham
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, broad, and easy to read history of every aspect of aviation technology and people, organized by overall experimentation and development and then by individual aircraft systems.
Ken
Dec 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a little slow in spots, but overall very informative.
Ken St. Onge
Really good introduction the earlier history of aviation. Enjoyed it a lot.
Peter M.
Interesting history of the airplane, from subsystem level to entire system
Daniel Calderón
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining history of the development of the aircraft and the people involved in it. Very good reference for enthusiasts and professionals of the industry.
Michael Evans
Great aviation book containing history, a little bit of technical knowledge and a decent attempt to sequence and link different historical events in aviation.
Jeff
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Aug 30, 2016
Francesco
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Glenn
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Ouen Worth
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Nov 21, 2012
Ken Barber
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Baron Huang
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Rob
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Trevor
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Jack
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Arnaud Schoenmakers
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May 08, 2015
Brad Thompson
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Oct 05, 2009
Ashwini Pandey
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Apr 20, 2010
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