Tick tock…Every passing moment finds us closer to Christmas 2016. And if you’re on the hunt for gift ideas for the aviator in your life (even if that’s yourself), following is a handful of the aviation-themed books that have crossed my desk in recent weeks that will make a nice gift.
Like aviation itself, these titles come in all shapes and sizes — topically as well as physically.
The Aviator’s Bathroom Reader
144 short stories fill the 504 pages between the front and back cover of this marvel.
Stories range from “Anybody Can Do Anything In An Airplane… Once!”, “Aviation’s Greatest Lies”, “Earache Remedy”, and “Flyer’s Fables” to “How To Tell If Your Pilot Is Over 60”, “If A Dog Was Your Instructor”, “Squawk This”, “Zero-Zero” and many, many more.
There’s something for everyone in this short story compendium. And even if the story you’re reading isn’t for you… don’t fret, another one is just a few pages away.
The Aviator’s Bathroom Reader is available on Amazon.com for $23.95.
How To Make A Spaceship
At the other end of the book spectrum is How To Make a Spaceship. Long the domain of government entities, space flight was beyond the reach of us mere mortals with a limited supply of capital. That has changed in the past few decades.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic are each connected to one man, Peter Diamandis and his XPRIZE. Modeled off the $25,000 Orteig Prize that inspired Charles Lindbergh’s successful Spirit of St. Louis flight, Diamondis’ XPRIZE similarly inspired today’s private space explorers.
How To Make A Spaceship is the story of Diamondis and the XPRIZE. Available on Amazon.com for $17.94.
Eyes All Over The Sky
Few things have driven aerial progress like war. World War I broke out barely a decade after the Wright brothers’ first flight. The insatiable need to have eyes in the sky drove engineers to create ever more capable aircraft — from balloons to airplanes — into the skies above the battlefields.
Eyes All Over The Sky, written by World War I historian James Streckfuss, dives deep into the development of aerial reconnaissance in World War I.
Find it at Amazon.com for $26.03.
In March 1967, a Cessna 195 flew from Oregon towards San Francisco carrying a family of three: Alvin Oien, Sr. (the pilot), his wife Phyllis and step-daughter Carla Corbus. Due to worse-than-predicted weather, the Cessna 195 went down in the mountains of northern California only eight miles from a highway.
Search-and-rescue efforts were hindered by snowy winter storms, rugged terrain, and the fact the downed airplane did not have an ELT.
When hunters found the wreckage in October, it was discovered the family had survived the crash. A diary and series of letters from the survivors detailed their predicament.
Author Ross Nixon’s Finding Carla masterfully tells the story of how the family’s tragedy forever changed aviation search and rescue. Available from ASA for $15.95.
Anyone who has flown (as a pilot) has a logbook. The detail of my logbooks — sadly — ebbs and flows with my energy. Some are wonderfully detailed and will take me back to that flight instantly. Others, not so much.
Private Wings is “guided by [Author Paul Wallen’s] methodically-kept logbooks that detail each flight.”
The 96 stories included in the book range from “a close call on takeoff because he overloaded his plane, to the thrill of piloting a blimp.”
Wallem is a now-retired 40-year pilot. His stories will entertain young and old, aspiring and seasoned pilots alike. Find Private Wings… My Life in Logbooks on Amazon.com for $16.79.
The Lafayette Escadrille
The Lafayette Escadrille was an all-volunteer squadron of Americans who flew for France during World War I. It is arguably the best-known flight squadron to take to the skies.
The history and stories of these volunteers — who named themselves after Marquis Lafayette, who came to America’s aid during its Revolution — is laid out in both text and pictorial form.
Written by Steven A. Ruffin, The Lafayette Escadrille is 288 pages that includes black and white and color photos. Imagery includes then-and-now comparisons, as well as aircraft profiles. Available on Amazon.com for $28.89.
The Crash Detectives
In 2014, there were approximately 33 million commercial airline flights worldwide, but only seven commercial airline crashes. Commercial flying is the safest way to travel, but still makes many people nervous. Plane crashes makes headlines, dominate news broadcasts and capture the attention of millions.
In The Crash Detectives, author Christine Negroni draws upon aviation science, performance technology, and interviews with pilots, engineers and human factors specialists as well as crash survivors to chronicle some of history’s most notable accidents and how they shaped the evolution of air safety.
“Christine Negroni is a talented aviation journalist who clearly understands the critically important part the human factor plays in aviation safety,” notes Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, pilot of US Airways 1549, Miracle on the Hudson. “She ‘gets it.’”
The Crash Detectives is available on Amazon.com for $11.38.