Jet Age: The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World

Jet Age: The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World

by Sam Howe Verhovek
     
 

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The captivating story of the titans, engineers, and pilots who raced to design a safe and lucrative passenger jet.

In Jet Age, journalist Sam Howe Verhovek explores the advent of the first generation of jet airliners and the people who designed, built, and flew them. The path to jet travel was triumphal and amazingly rapid-less than fifty years

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Overview

The captivating story of the titans, engineers, and pilots who raced to design a safe and lucrative passenger jet.

In Jet Age, journalist Sam Howe Verhovek explores the advent of the first generation of jet airliners and the people who designed, built, and flew them. The path to jet travel was triumphal and amazingly rapid-less than fifty years after the Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk, Great Britain led the world with the first commercial jet plane service. Yet the pioneering British Comet was cursed with a tragic, mysterious flaw, and an upstart Seattle company put a new competitor in the sky: the Boeing 707 Jet Stratoliner. Jet Age vividly recreates the race between two nations, two global airlines, and two rival teams of brilliant engineers for bragging rights to the first jet service across the Atlantic Ocean in 1958.

At the center of this story are great minds and courageous souls, including Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, who spearheaded the development of the Comet, even as two of his sons lost their lives flying earlier models of his aircraft; Sir Arnold Hall, the brilliant British aerodynamicist tasked with uncovering the Comet's fatal flaw; Bill Allen, Boeing's deceptively mild-mannered president; and Alvin "Tex" Johnston, Boeing's swashbuckling but supremely skilled test pilot. The extraordinary airplanes themselves emerge as characters in the drama. As the Comet and the Boeing 707 go head-to-head, flying twice as fast and high as the propeller planes that preceded them, the book captures the electrifying spirit of an era: the Jet Age.

In the spirit of Stephen Ambrose's Nothing Like It in the World, Verhovek's Jet Age offers a gorgeous rendering of an exciting age and fascinating technology that permanently changed our conception of distance and time, of a triumph of engineering and design, and of a company that took a huge gamble and won.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Breezy and fact-filled history...Mr. Verhovek spins a fine yarn that includes big money, war, sex and power." — The Wall Street Journal

"Jet Age is a page-turning detective story with characters as finely drawn as those in a work of fiction, and infused with an infectious sense of wonder that drove ordinary men and women to reach for extraordinary heights." — The New York Times

Michael Belfiore
…ostensibly about the race between two companies and nations to commercialize a military technology and define a new era of air travel…Jet Age is a page-turning detective story (what made the first jet airliner keep crashing?) with characters as finely drawn as those in a work of fiction, and infused with the infectious sense of wonder for heavier-than-air flight that drove ordinary men and women to reach for extraordinary heights. But the book is really about the risk-taking essential for making any extreme endeavor common­place. Jet Age celebrates the managers, pilots, engineers, flight attendants and, yes, even passengers (for without passengers there is no business) who gambled everything so that we might cross oceans and continents in hours rather than days.
—The New York Times Book Review
Richard B. Woodward
Mr. Verhovek's slender book might subordinate argument to fun facts, but he has a reporter's eye for an anecdote…Aviation scholars should look elsewhere. But less fussy readers en route to Frankfurt or Dubai should enjoy this trip back to the time of "Mad Men" aboard a miraculous invention too easily taken for granted.
—The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781583334362
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/02/2011
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
321,154
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Sam Howe Verhovek has been a reporter for The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times for more than twenty-five years. His assignments have taken him around the globe, to riots in India, the war in Iraq, and the longest school bus ride in America. He lives in Seattle.

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