If you are enamored with the evolution of the airline industry, “From Props to Jets: Commercial Aviation’s Transition to the Jet Age 1952 to 1962” is a book for you.
The 160-page book, written by Jon Proctor, Mike Machat, and Craig Kodera, details the growth of commercial air travel around the world. It covers all aspects of the industry, including technological developments, politics, and the changing culture of air travel from a luxury for the very rich to a tool for businessmen and, later, vacations for middle class families.
All three authors have extensive backgrounds in aviation and the level of detail in the book demonstrates this. The authors take great care in explaining how aircraft were selected, modified and developed for the needs of each airline. It is a story of boom…and bust…and rebounding.
When cross-country air travel began, the flights were done day time only in DC-3s. At night the passengers stayed in hotels or traveled by train. The book documents how changes in technology, notably the switch from piston-powered propellers to turbo jets, the development of pressurized aircraft, and the addition of VORs, helped propel the industry forward.
Instrument flight was in its infancy, and the airlines needed all the help they could get to persuade the public that flying was safe no matter what the weather was. The ADF, low-tech by modern standards, was a necessary piece of equipment, as valuable as GPS is today for position awareness.
The luxury and romance of early air travel may make you cry. What the propeller-driven aircraft lacked in speed and range they made up in comfort. The pictures show smiling, well-dressed people dining on restaurant-quality meals and reclining in what appear to be wide cabins. Think about this the next time you pay $5 for a bag of chips and are packed in coach like a sardine.
The coffee table book is hard cover. Photos are both black and white and color.
The book is available at SpecialtyPress.com and other online booksellers.