From acclaimed historian Lawrence Goldstone comes a thrilling narrative of courage, determination, and competition: the story of the intense rivalry that fueled the rise of American aviation.
The feud between this nation’s great air pioneers, the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss, was a collision of unyielding and profoundly American personalities. On one side, a pair of tenacious siblings who together had solved the centuries-old riddle of powered, heavier-than-air flight. On the other, an audacious motorcycle racer whose innovative aircraft became synonymous in the public mind with death-defying stunts. For more than a decade, they battled each other in court, at air shows, and in the newspapers. The outcome of this contest of wills would shape the course of aviation history–and take a fearsome toll on the men involved.
Birdmen sets the engrossing story of the Wrights’ war with Curtiss against the thrilling backdrop of the early years of manned flight, and is rich with period detail and larger-than-life personalities: Thomas Scott Baldwin, or “Cap’t Tom” as he styled himself, who invented the parachute and almost convinced the world that balloons were the future of aviation; John Moisant, the dapper daredevil who took to the skies after three failed attempts to overthrow the government of El Salvador, then quickly emerged as a celebrity flyer; and Harriet Quimby, the statuesque silent-film beauty who became the first woman to fly across the English Channel. And then there is Lincoln Beachey, perhaps the greatest aviator who ever lived, who dazzled crowds with an array of trademark twists and dives–and best embodied the romance with death that fueled so many of aviation’s earliest heroes.
A dramatic story of unimaginable bravery in the air and brutal competition on the ground, Birdmen is at once a thrill ride through flight’s wild early years and a surprising look at the personal clash that fueled America’s race to the skies. (description from publisher)
Human flight is one of the last great challenges on Earth. Not like how the Wright brothers flew, but how we fly in our dreams.
This is the goal of the Wingsuit Landing Project: to soar through the sky at speeds up to 100 mph, over distances up to four and a half miles, and to land without the aid of a parachute. At least half a dozen groups around the globe have taken part, from France, South Africa, Australia, Russia, and Britain to the United States. This project is the creation of thirty-seven-year-old adrenaline-seeking Jeb Corliss, Jr., a Southern Californian who seeks to emulate a mode of flight more like a flying squirrel than bird or plane. The possibilities of the wingsuit concept have captured the human imagination– from the mythical Icarus to beloved character Wile E. Coyote–but the results have usually been disastrous. New designs developed over the past two decades have made the wingsuit slightly safer and more predictable, but immense dangers still remain.
Journalist Matt Higgins gained intimate access to wingsuit pioneer Corliss; a brash, publicity-hungry rich kid from LA who, after years of BASE jumping and skydiving, set out to be the first person to be dropped 2,400 feet and land solely with the aid of a wingsuit. But somewhere in the UK, a forty-two-year-old man of average means was plotting to beat Corliss at his own $3 million game. His name was Gary Connery. Along with an international group of wingsuit devotees–including a Finnish magician, a parachute tester from Brazil, an Australian computer programmer, a gruff former Hollywood stuntman-turned aeronautical engineer, a French skydiving champion, and a South African costume designer–Corliss and Connery race to leap into the unknown as the world’s foremost wingsuit pilots. This race will nearly cost one of the competitors his life.
Bird Dream is a riveting, adrenaline-fueled narrative about a group of unforgettable characters who risk everything to achieve man’s age-old dream of flying. Chronicling everything from stunt parachuting in 1960s Hollywood to BASE jumping off landmark buildings in Manhattan to wingsuit flying in South America, Bird Dream takes readers to the cutting edge of this new frontier – as well as the strange science and fearless history that have led us to this remarkable point in the human experience. (description from publisher)