GETTING OFF THE GROUND by George & George C. Dade Vecsey
Kirkus Star


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A delightful book of reminis about the earliest days of aviation by men now in their seventies, eighties, and nineties. The legends are alive and stalking these pages, as Lindbergh, Glenn Curtiss, Amelia Earhart, Glenn L. Martin, Elinor Smith, Lincoln Beachey, and Bar von Richthofen put in some flying time or just stop by. Typical comments are those by the brothers Will and Henry Newell, who formed their own Aero Club of Long Island in 1908 and built their own powered-flight airplane which had to fly witthout a motorr since they couldn't afford one. Classically, it got so big they couldn'tt get it out of their attic; and then the best it ever did was a 20-foot glide on a golf course as they pulled it by hand. Their mother finally put her foot down, insisting, ""If you go up in that plane, you won't go to college."" Not until they were businessmen in the 1940s did they actually fly. James McMillen, the first English-speaking member of the Lafayette Escadrille, identifies his main fear as ""Walking to the plane. Once you got in you didn't think it would happen to you,"" When the Escadrille's greatest ace, Raoul Lufbery, leaps chuteless to his death, he lands in a French garden and villagers cover his corpse with spring flower's. Se it goes with parachutists, barnstormers, stuntmen, daredevils, mechanics--29 tape-recorded pioneers including ladies breaklng endurance records and one Charles Fity, who built and flew a plane with flapping wings that could fold or collapse like a sparrow's. Glorious!

Pub Date: April 1st, 1979
Publisher: Dutton