Innovation and the Development of Flight

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Roger D. Launius
Texas A&M University Press, 1999 - Technology & Engineering - 335 pages
Perhaps no technological development in the century has more fundamentally transformed human life than the airplane and its support apparatus. The nature of flight, and the activities that it has engendered throughout the world, makes the development of aviation technology an important area of investigation. Why did aeronautical technology take the shape it did? Which individuals and organizations were involved in driving it? What factors influenced particular choices of technologies to be used? More importantly, how has innovation affected this technology?

Innovation and the Development of Flight, a first strike at the “new aviation history,” represents a significant transformation of the field by relating the subject to larger issues of society, politics, and culture, taking a more sophisticated view of the technology that few historians have previously attempted.

This volume moves beyond a focus on the artifact to emphasize the broader role of the airplane and, more importantly, the entire technological system. This suggests that many unanswered questions are present in the development of modern aviation and that inquisitive historians seek to know the relationships of technological systems to the human mind.

Some of the subjects discussed are early aeronautical innovation and government patronage; the evolution of relationships among airports, cities, and industry; the relationship of engine development to the entire aviation industry; the Department of Commerce’s influence on light plane development; pressure in the Air Force for the development of jet engines; and lessons of the National Aerospace Plane Program.

Aviation historians and historians of technology will find Innovation and the Development of Flight a valuable examination of aeronautical innovation providing foundations for continued explorations of this field.

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The Langley and Wright Aero Accidents Two Responses to Early Aeronautical Innovation and Government Patronage
Innovation in Americas Aviation Support Infrastructure The Evolving Relationship between Airports Cities and Industry
The Search for an Instrument Landing System 191848
Higher Faster and Farther Fueling the Aeronautical Revolution 191945
Engineering Successful Innovation Pratt Whitney Aircraft Engines 192540
ThreeMilesaMinute The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and the Development of the Modern Airliner
An Airplane for Everyman The Department of Commerce and the Light Airplane Industry 193337
Paths for Flight Innovation and the Origin of Radar
Rocket Aircraft and the Turbojet Revolution The Luftwaffes Quest for HighSpeed Flight 193539
Revolutionary Innovation and the Invisible Infrastructure Making Royal Air Force Bomber Command Efficient 193945
Riding Englands Coattails The US Army Air Forces and the Turbojet Revolution
Command Innovation Lessons from the National Aerospace Plane Program
About the Authors

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Page 33 - Success four flights Thursday morning all against twenty-one mile wind started from level with engine power alone average speed through air thirtyone miles longest 59 seconds inform press home Christmas.
Page 29 - For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my Me.
Page 28 - I am an enthusiast, but not a crank in the sense that I have some pet theories as to the proper construction of a flying machine. I wish to avail myself of all that is already known and then if possible add my mite to help on the future worker who will attain final success.
Page 3 - England that they flung themselves in the technological torrent, how they shouted with glee in the midst of the cataract, and cried to each other as they went headlong down the chute that here was their destiny as they used technology to transform a wilderness into their "City upon a hill.
Page 21 - The machine has worked. It seems to me worth while for this government to try whether it will not work on a large enough scale to be of use in the event of war.
Page 28 - I am about to begin a systematic study of the subject in preparation for practical work to which I expect to devote what time I can spare from my regular business. I wish to obtain such papers as the Smithsonian Institution has published on this subject, and if possible a list of other works in print in the English language. I am an enthusiast...

About the author (1999)

Roger D. Launius is chief historian, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He has written or edited more than twenty books.

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