From the initial flights after WW I right up to Concorde, transatlantic aviation has been characterized by ambitions and rivalries, whether personal, national, or commercial. This pedestrian account of historic crossings follows the successive firsts--east to west, west to east, male, female--then lumbers through technological developments and mid-sea refuelings, and proceeds into the commercial age. Although most pioneers showed no fear of flying, the few who survived North Atlantic turbulence did bring back stories of gremlins and other inexplicables. Early motivations were strange but economic considerations soon dominated the traffic: mail runs were profitable but cargo was the real catalyst. With the advent of passenger flights and jet speeds, aviation took a new turn; nowadays there's more ice in the glass than on the windshield, and stewardesses may serve in seventeen combinations of clothes. Beaty has piloted many of these craft so he knows much of this firsthand but his undramatic rendering never gets off the ground.