Sky as Frontier: Adventure, Aviation, and Empire

Sky as Frontier: Adventure, Aviation, and Empire

by David T. Courtwright
     
 


The airplane changed the course of history. Above all, it changed the history of the United States. When the Wright brothers invented their flying machine, Americans lived in a nation of two dimensions, circumscribed by lines drawn on a conventional map. A century later, their nation existed—in fact, reigned—in three dimensions. Two million Americans… See more details below

Overview


The airplane changed the course of history. Above all, it changed the history of the United States. When the Wright brothers invented their flying machine, Americans lived in a nation of two dimensions, circumscribed by lines drawn on a conventional map. A century later, their nation existed—in fact, reigned—in three dimensions. Two million Americans slipped the surly bonds of earth daily, carried aloft by aircraft operating in every part of the world.

The airplane turned the sky into a new domain of human activity, a fast-developing frontier. The first to brave that frontier were adventurous young men. Then came the rich and the hurried. Then just about everybody else. Until now, no one has told the story of aviation as one of frontier expansion. David Courtwright does so in Sky as Frontier. He has written an ambitious history of American aviation ranging from the patent fight between the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss through the tragedy of 9/11 and the Iraq War. Along the way, Courtwright stops to consider dogfighting, barnstorming, the first air mail pilots, the development of airlines, air power during World War II, flight’s impact on the environment, the troubled space frontier, and how the male-dominated aviation enterprise was domesticated and democratized.

Aviation’s frontier stage lasted a scant three decades, then vanished as flying became a settled experience. Sky as Frontier recreates that pioneer world and shows how commercial and military imperatives destroyed it by routinizing flight. At bottom, it is the story of a fateful tradeoff. Rationalization killed the adventure in flying but made possible rapid aerial expansion. With it came commercial growth and glob8al military reach. In no other country did social life, business, and military operations become so intertwined with aerospace advances, or have such large consequences for national power and prestige.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781585443840
Publisher:
Texas A&M University Press
Publication date:
10/28/2004
Series:
Centennial of Flight Series, #11
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.44(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.12(d)

Table of Contents

Pt. IThe age of the pioneers3
1Sky as frontier5
2The worm gets the early birds21
3Gone west38
4The next thing to suicide56
5The Protestant ethic and the Spirit of St. Louis70
Pt. IIThe age of mass experience89
6Assisted takeoff91
7The Rome of the air110
8Routine stuff132
9Marginal costs with wings151
10Space as frontier172
Pt. IIIThe significance of air and space in American history193
11Winners and losers195
12A storm of planes209

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