Huntsville Air and Space, Alabama (Images of Aviation Series)

Huntsville Air and Space, Alabama (Images of Aviation Series)

by T. Gary Wicks
     
 

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The air age in Huntsville began more than a century ago with Will Quick's design and construction of a flying machine, which he demonstrated in 1908 for patenting and manufacture. The space age began in Huntsville a half century later with the advent of Wernher Von Braun's Redstone Jupiter C rocket, which launched America's first satellite, Explorer 1, into orbit

Overview

The air age in Huntsville began more than a century ago with Will Quick's design and construction of a flying machine, which he demonstrated in 1908 for patenting and manufacture. The space age began in Huntsville a half century later with the advent of Wernher Von Braun's Redstone Jupiter C rocket, which launched America's first satellite, Explorer 1, into orbit in 1958. A decade later, Huntsville was at the epicenter of the greatest technological achievement of the 20th century as the Saturn V rocket propelled humankind to the moon. Nowhere in the world is the century's rapid advance of air and space technology more apparent than in Huntsville. This unique evolution of flying machines and space vehicles unfolds in this pictorial documentary, including the dramatic growth of the research facilities and community infrastructure that produced these remarkable inventions.

The Images of Aviation series celebrates the history of flight-from the early experimental, lighter-than-air craft to modern commercial, military, and private air machines. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that commemorate aviation and its impact on American industries and communities. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Title: Pioneer's kin writes history of aviation in city

Author: Steve Doyle

Publisher: The Huntsville Times

Date: 2/15/10

Author descended from designer of state's 1st airplane

As a great-grandson of the man who designed Alabama's first airplane, Gary Wicks is understandably fascinated by aviation history.

The NASA retiree has parlayed that interest into a new book, "Images of Aviation: Huntsville Air and Space" ($21.99, Arcadia Publishing). Due to go on sale next week, the 128-page paperback is an illustrated history of this area's high-flying ways.

Wicks, 72, said the book grew out of his desire to write a biography of his great-grandfather, William Lafayette Quick. Around 1900, the New Market blacksmith and his sons began building a "flying machine" in the family's workshop.

The Wright Brothers got all the glory for reaching the skies first, but Quick wasn't far behind. In April 1908, his plane left the ground briefly, then jerked to the right and crashed near the Flint River.

Despite the bumpy ending, it is considered the first successful flight in Alabama. The plane is on display at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center's Davidson Center for Space Exploration.

Wicks' book also delves into the mostly forgotten story of Huntsville's early airports, including a grass landing strip near Whitesburg Drive and the old airport in present-day John Hunt Park.

With a rickety wooden shanty for a terminal, the old airport wasn't much to look at. But by November 1944, locals could take to the skies in a gleaming DC-3 operated by Pennsylvania Central Airline.

Wicks dug up two pictures from the inaugural commercial flight, including Susie Spragins christening the plane with water from Big Spring and jeweler J.B. Hill climbing aboard as the first passenger.

"I feel like I kind of nailed down some history for the city," Wicks said Friday. "It was excruciatingly slow and painful to get an airport going.

Really, it was NASA and the military expansion that forced the city fathers into the airport business."

The second half of the book is devoted to Huntsville's quest for outer space. Wicks borrowed dozens of images - some obscure, some well known - from his former employer, Marshall Space Flight Center, plus the Army Aviation and Missile Command.

One memorable photo from Jan. 31, 1958, shows then-Huntsville Mayor R.B. Searcy and others lighting firecrackers in the street to celebrate the launch of the Explorer 1 satellite.

Wicks said he expects Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, among others, to carry the book. It is also available through his publisher's Web site, www.arcadiapublishing.com.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738566078
Publisher:
Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date:
02/28/2010
Series:
Images of Aviation Series
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
674,928
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author


Author T. Gary Wicks is a native Huntsvillian and the great grandson of Will Quick. Wicks was a member of the moon-rocket team and has been a player in the Huntsville story and its significant aerospace achievements. He is a member of the Huntsville Madison County Historical Society and the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Retiree's Association.

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