Although the Wright Brothers made the first manned flight of a powered heavier than air aircraft, the main powerhouse of pre 1914 aviation was France. The book contains a supurb collection of photographs of the aircraft produced in this period, along with a smaller collection of pictures from the inter-war period.
There is a splendid mix of aircraft here. On the one hand we have what you might call the sensible wing, with aircraft that were mainly based on earlier succesful designs. On the other hand we have a series of wildly extravagant looking designs very few of which ever flew, including one shaped like a sycamore seed, using an air jet to rotate it like a one bladed helicopter, and a variety with unusually shaped seeds. However we should remember that most of these unusual looking designs had been produced within ten years of the Wright Brother’s first flight, at a time when nobody could be sure what succesful aircraft would eventually look like. Some of the most atmospheric pictures are from the early Paris air shows, many of which were held in the Grand Palais in Paris, and were incredibly elaborate affairs.
The pictures are supported by an equally excellent text, with some very detailed captions identifying the individual aircraft, what made them unusual, and how they performed. The result is an excellent illustrated guide to the earliest days of powered aviation, and the often dangerous experiments that allowed such rapid progress.
Post War Years
Author: Graham M. Simons
Publisher: Air World