Big Jump: Lindbergh and the Great Atlantic Air Race

Overview

The trans-Atlantic air race of 1927 and the flight that made Charles Lindbergh a hero

The race to make the first nonstop flight between the New York and Paris attracted some of the most famous and seasoned aviators of the day, yet it was the young and lesser known Charles Lindbergh who won the $25,000 Orteig Prize in 1927 for his history-making solo flight in the Spirit of St. Louis. Drawing on many previously overlooked sources, Bak offers a fresh look at the personalities that...

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Overview

The trans-Atlantic air race of 1927 and the flight that made Charles Lindbergh a hero

The race to make the first nonstop flight between the New York and Paris attracted some of the most famous and seasoned aviators of the day, yet it was the young and lesser known Charles Lindbergh who won the $25,000 Orteig Prize in 1927 for his history-making solo flight in the Spirit of St. Louis. Drawing on many previously overlooked sources, Bak offers a fresh look at the personalities that made up this epic air race – a deadly competition that culminated in one of the twentieth century's most thrilling personal achievements and turned Charles Lindbergh into the first international hero of the modern age.

  • Examines the extraordinary life and cultural impact of Charles Lindbergh, one of the iconic figures of the twentieth century, and his legendary trans-Atlantic flight that captured the world's imagination
  • Explores the romance of flying during aviation's Golden Age of the 1920s, the enduring mystique of the aviator, and rapid technological advances that made for a paradigm shift in human perception of the world
  • Filled with colorful characters from early aviation history, including Charles Nungesser, Igor Sikorsky, René Fonck, Richard Byrd, and Paul Tarascon

History and the imagination take flight in this gripping account of high-flying adventure, in which a group of courageous men tested the both limits of technology and the power of nature in pursuit of one of mankind's boldest dreams.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
* "Bak's (Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire) exceptional contribution to Lindbergh historiography plays out against the broader canvas of North Atlantic flight, from the initial stopover crossing by the U.S. Navy in 1919 through the spate of New York-to-Paris attempts in 1927 and the first Paris-to-New York flight in 1930. Bak vividly captures the flurry of activity by the respective crews in preparing their multiengine planes to cross the Atlantic (only Lindbergh opted to make the "jump" solo, flying a single-engine craft), including the occasional clash of wills, the in-flight losses of life, and Lindbergh's winning of the Orteig Prize for his 1927 flight. Bak portrays Lindbergh as an iconic figure who through courage, perseverance, aeronautical savvy, and excellent working relations with the Spirit of St. Louis's builders and backers won the day and gained worldwide acclaim, although his celebrity eventually took a darker turn. The epilog contains touching sketches of the later years of many of the men and women Bak covers. VERDICT A fresh and remarkably comprehensive perspective on Lindbergh and his competitors who meant to deny him a life of fame and wealth. Impressively researched, with a narrative fairly crackling with energy. Recommended to all readers." — John Carver Edwards, University of Georgia Libs., Cleveland (Library Journal, August 2011)

"Is there room for yet another spin on the tired old propeller of the Spirit of St. Louis? Yes indeed, if Richard Bak is turning the prop. In The Big Jump, a brisk history, Mr. Bak puts Lindbergh's flight in the context of 'the Great Atlantic Air Race'.... It was in large part the pilot's determined lack of flair that made him such a hero when he succeeded — an outcome that, for all the times it has been told, Mr. Bak has imbued again with excitement and pleasure."
Dan Ford, Wall Street Journal, July 23/24, 2011

"The story of the Spirit of St. Louis is well known but seldom told as well.
David Shribman, Boston Globe, August 11, 2011

"Richard Bak has an astonishing gift for making events of the distant past seem as if they happened just yesterday. Now he has put that gift to use in a superb rediscovery of aviation’s greatest adventure story: the deadly race to connect New York and Paris by air."
James Tobin, National Book Critics Circle Award winner for Ernie Pyle's War and the author of To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight

Library Journal
Bak's (Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire) exceptional contribution to Lindbergh historiography plays out against the broader canvas of North Atlantic flight, from the initial stopover crossing by the U.S. Navy in 1919 through the spate of New York-to-Paris attempts in 1927 and the first Paris-to-New York flight in 1930. Bak vividly captures the flurry of activity by the respective crews in preparing their multiengine planes to cross the Atlantic (only Lindbergh opted to make the "jump" solo, flying a single-engine craft), including the occasional clash of wills, the in-flight losses of life, and Lindbergh's winning of the Orteig Prize for his 1927 flight. Bak portrays Lindbergh as an iconic figure who through courage, perseverance, aeronautical savvy, and excellent working relations with the Spirit of St. Louis's builders and backers won the day and gained worldwide acclaim, although his celebrity eventually took a darker turn. The epilog contains touching sketches of the later years of many of the men and women Bak covers. VERDICT A fresh and remarkably comprehensive perspective on Lindbergh and his competitors who meant to deny him a life of fame and wealth. Impressively researched, with a narrative fairly crackling with energy. Recommended to all readers.—John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471477525
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 7/26/2011
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,375,752
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

RICHARD BAK is a Detroit-based journalist and the author of twenty-five books, including Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire and Peach: Ty Cobb in His Time and Ours. He has received three ForeWord magazine Book-of-the-Year awards, the Stuart D. and Vernice M. Gross Prize for Literature, and two Emmys for his work as writer and coproducer of Stranded at the Corner, a feature-length documentary about the fight to save Detroit's Tiger Stadium.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue: Instant Fame—or Flaming Gasoline 1

1 "We've Come to Fly the Atlantic" 6

2 "Where Does France Come In?" 23

3 "The Ace with the Wooden Leg" 35

4 The Fortune of the Air 54

5 Slim 80

6 Giuseppe, the Gypsy, and the Junk Man 92

7 Revving Up 101

8 Against the Prevailing Winds 111

9 Come to Earth 121

10 Little Silver Plane 132

11 Paris au Printemps 139

12 A Stout Heart Does Not Fear Death 149

13 Limbo 160

14 Hunting Dragons 169

15 We Two 184

16 "Vive l'Amérique!" 205

17 "Lindbergh Is Our Elijah" 218

18 Two More Across 233

19 The Atlantic No Longer Exists 246

Epilogue: Restless Spirits 264

Notes 274

Bibliography 297

Index 312

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