By the author of the hilarious portfolio of noble blunders The World's Worst Aircraft (1976). The present anthology, although roughly chronological, is not a history of aviation. Rather, it displays some great set-pieces Gilbert came across while putting together a 36-volume history of aviation for Arno Press; these were plums that simply should not be lost. Have you ever considered the loneliness of the long-distance solo balloonist who has absolutely nothing to do and only his basket-creakings to occupy him as he wafts through a May day from Surrey to Betchworth? Or how would you like to be sent aloft by P. T. Barnum to be the bride or groom in the first aerial wedding? What about going up with the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk or Le Mans (writes Wilbur: ""The newspapers and the French aviators nearly went wild with excitement. Bleriot & Delagrange were so excited they could scarcely speak, and Kapperer could only gasp, and could not talk at all""). In the spring of 1909 an astounded Le Corbusier watches the first pilot circle the Eiffel Tower. Or shall we go up with Richthofen's flying circus? Go barnstorming over the Great Plains--say in the company of Ernest K. Gann? Take a thundery F-84F nightflight with Richard Bach who's lost in a storm over the English Channel and tumbling to death amid lightning flashes? A first-rate collection, hot with moody writing and close brushes with the wind of the wing of death.