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Posted September 4, 2003
Posted November 30, 2002
The Great Airplane Book -- same song, 2nd verse, louder
Ever want a book that holds information on ALL of the world's airplanes, from the beginning of time? This is about the closest I've ever seen. Barnes & Noble stores are offering this huge, colorful and fascinating airplane/helicopter reference work. Every aviation enthusiast would love to have a copy. Though I've only looked it over slightly, I own (and treasure) a copy of the 1997/1999 edition. This is a very useful, nearly-all-encompassing book of summary information about most of the world's significant aircraft. However, it is NOT balanced in its coverage (with a noticeable bias towards warplanes and British aircraft), so that some important planes get superficial coverage, while trivial British warplanes are obsessed over. This company is apparently unable to learn from its mistakes. Again, the book is organized alphabetically by manufacturer (with the first several letters of the alphabet consuming most of the book, and the rest of the alphabet receiving much less coverage). Since the awful "index" (terribly needed, yet virtually unusable) has not improved, this makes finding a specifc plane a huge chore, or impossible, unless you happen to know the particular manufacturer's name under whom it is listed (many planes had multiple manufacturers, as with deHavilland, Ercoupe, Meyers, Aero Commander, American Yankee, Gulfstream and Aerostar lines, and most French lines which have changed hands repeatedly -- or as with the Raytheon Aircraft line, originating under four other names.) Again, there are whole classes of aircraft ignored: lighter-than-air, gliders (even combat gliders), classic homebuilt and kitplane designs, microlights, ultralights, etc., though those are hardly the most important to cover. Still, most major planes are readily located under their best-known manufacturer, and the information is better, and more interesting, than in most of the dry "airplane catalogs" by other British publishers. Each plane (or plane family) is covered by a photo or two of representative models, along with a half-dozen basic specifications and performance stats, and a short description of the design and its history, often with some note of the airplane's reputation or significance. Worth the price (the most I ever paid for an airplane book). Still, if you can find it, consider a copy of the 1997/1999 version instead (dark blue cover). It's a better bargain, at the same price.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 9, 2002
Great idea defeated by poor balance!
In 1997, B&N published a book with the same title in conjunction with Aerospace Publishing of Britain. The book received generally favorable reviews but was criticized about poor balance, with aircraft built by manufacturers with names in the latter part of the alphabet receiving far less coverage than those near the beginning. Now, the same team has done it again, and this book is not a mere update but is entirely new. As before, this is actually a compilation of articles from one of Aerospace Publishing's weekly "partworks", in this case "World Aircraft Information Files", which is fairly current. You would expect that with that fact and over 200 additional pages, that this book would be superior to the 1997 volume. But you'd be wrong! The problem is again with the balance, which is much worse than in the earlier book! Letters A and B receive over 200 pages each, and no other letter comes close. Letters A thru F make up fully 64% of the total (versus 48% in the 1997 book) while letters P thru Z make up a dismal 9% (versus 23% in the earlier volume). In fact, all the letters A thru L receive superior coverage in the new edition (some considerably so) while all the letters M thru Z receive inferior coverage (ditto). You still may want to buy the new book if you want the enhanced coverage of aircraft built by manufacturers in the first half of the alphabet. But you'll want to keep the earlier book handy if you want coverage from P onward. (Incidentally, if the coverage level for A and B had been carried forward through the alphabet, this would be a 2150-page book!)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.