Autumn is already here and pilots or aviation buffs alike looking for something to read might want to check out a few of these aviation books along with one (probably forgotten) movie:
Top Secret Boeing. Written by historian Bob Shaw, “Top Secret Boeing” tells the story about how British military scientists at Defford Airfield worked tirelessly on state-of-the-art radar technology that helped win the Second World War. Specifically, a radar system was tested and fitted to Allied aircraft at the airfield in January 1945 when a RAF Boeing 247-D airliner carried out the world’s first automatic landing. That landing system allowed aircraft to automatically circle a runway before being guided down to land – paving the way for modern commercial air travel day or night and in all types of weather. The book is available for £11.95 from Waterstones in Cheltenham, Cirencester and Gloucester plus at Alison’s Bookshop in Tewkesbury (and of course, on Amazon.co.uk here).
Flight and the Artistic Imagination. The companion book to the Flight and the Artistic Imagination exhibit about to conclude at Compton Verney in Warwickshire explores the instinctive human desire to fly by showing how artists have represented the experience of flight – both in fact and in fantasy. The book includes a collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, prints and video by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Paul Nash, Pater Lanyon and Mark Mallinger that were part of the exhibit to tell the story about how aviation changed art. Flight and the Artistic Imagination is available for just £7.50 online at the Compton Verney online shop.
British Aviation Posters. Bringing together a collection of more than 150 posters from British Airways’ archive, “British Aviation Posters” tells the story about the golden age of British aviation art when flying was still new and the preserve of “crackpots, inventors and the goggled rich…” That means the general public needed to be convinced that flying and commercial passenger flights were safe. Hence the need for aviation art to promote the benefits of flying. British Aviation Posters is available from Amazon.co.uk for £26.60.
Heroes of the Skies. Using new material from pilots’ log books, eyewitnesses, letters, citations, interviews and other sources, recently released “Heroes of the Skies” tells the stories behind the world’s largest collection of medals for gallantry in the air that were awarded to more than 80 British, Commonwealth and other Allied airmen. The book starts with the First World War and goes all the way up to the on-going conflict in Afghanistan with most stories coming from World War II. Heroes of the Skies is available from Amazon.co.uk for £11.20.
China Airborne. Now that the Chinese have acquired Cirrus, veteran aviation journalist, pilot and former Cirrus owner James Fallows has written “China Airborne” to try and tell the story of where Chinese aviation is right now and where the Chinese government plans to have it in the future. There is also a podcast interview with James on AVweb where he talks about the book and Chinese aviation in general. China Airborne is a available from Amazon.co.uk for £15.07.
The Map of My Dead Pilots, the Dangerous Game of Flying in Alaska. Written by Colleen Mondor who drew upon her four years of running dispatch operations for a Fairbanks-based airline, “The Map of My Dead Pilots, the Dangerous Game of Flying in Alaska” tells the real life stories of pilots who often fly less-than-in-the-best-of-shape equipment to transport everything from sled dogs to groceries. Apparently, most of the pilots take flying jobs in Alaska as a way to gain experience for other flying jobs but some of these pilots also do not come back alive. The Map of My Dead Pilots is available from Amazon.co.uk for £13.27.
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. Finally, Slant Magazine has brought our attention to the 1965 movie “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” is a comedy about a British nobleman (Robert Morley) who hosts an international "flying machine" race from Dover to Paris in the hopes of stealing a few aviation ideas in order to claim the skies for Britannia while his daughter Patricia (Sarah Miles), who is betrothed to a pilot (James Fox) in the British army, is tempted away by a flight enthusiast named Orvil (Stuart Whitman) who enters the contest. There’s plenty of action and laughs in the 138 minute long film which is available on DVD from Amazon.co.uk for £4.19.