It took war to create the jet engine. It took rivalry to develop the B707 against the British made de Havilland Comet.
Sam Howe Verhovek's well researched book, Jet Age, depicts the pinnacle events of the “jet age”…starting from its infancy…to when a passenger is whisked at 500 mph in total comfort. He does this by not simply regurgitating dates, events and developments, but by conveying a personal side to things.
His take on this magnificent era resists chronological order as he renders aviation events with a unique slant. The book moves back and forth in time and to and fro geographic settings. All of which entices the reader. For me, his book rekindled an interest in aviation history.
We, the flying public (pilots included), sometimes need reminding of just how majestic a modern airliner is. And Verhovek's book reminds us how competition, innovation, failure, conflict but perseverance paid off to shrink our world....
The book starts off with the rivalry with the British and the Americans as to who will rule the airways. How else to get the competitive juices flowing? The British came out strong with the Comet…”It appeared almost impossibly sleek, its four “Ghost” engines tucked into the wings.”
He then whisks the reader across the Atlantic to the extreme American northwest city of Seattle, Washington to read about Boeing’s infancy. The B707 emerged at the helm of test pilot Tex Johnston and Verhovek keeps you entertained of Tex and his antics. Especially flying the B707 completely inverted during the official launch the B707 program.
One also can’t overlook two great innovators who both lay claim to the invention of the jet engine – Frank Whittle of England and Hans von Oahin of Germany during WWII. Talk about rivalry!
The author brings to light lots of neat hidden facts. For instance, the Wright brothers’ first full account of their aerial feat came by a reporter in a beekeepers journal called Gleanings in Bee Culture.
You’ll also learn about Geoffrey de Havilland, an aviation titan and brains behind the Comet, and his obsessions in aviation. Today the name de Havilland is still synonymous to aviation.
Because the author resides in Seattle, Washington, the book dwells heavily on Boeing. Why not? They rule(d)!
For me as an airline pilot nearing ten thousand hours on an Airbus it didn’t hurt one bit. :) Boeing makes great aircraft and my next endorsement will be a Boeing product. Though the word “Airbus” didn’t make it in his book, I still loved the read. And you will too!
The airliner…what an invention! Sure the Internet, and telecommunications broke down political walls, but the airliner shattered borders, shrunk our world and opened new horizons.
In the time it takes the world to spin half a rotation, one can be on the other side of the planet, enshrouded by a foreign language, culture, philosophy and way of life.
Sam Howe Verhovek nails this shrinking phenomenon by describing the aviation feat…”for the first time, in however rudimentary and precarious and brief a fashion, man could direct the course of his flight. It had taken the human race thousands of years to get to this step; in less than half a century, people would be able to step aboard a jet airliner and move at the unthinkable speed of 500 miles per hour.”
So go to your local bookstore or go on line and order up this great read on the emergence of the jet age. Anyone who has flown on an airplane, either as a passenger or flight crew, will be entertained of Verhovek’s detective like tales.
Here’s the book’s website and where you can buy it: