Jet Age: The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World

By Sam Howe Verhovek

The eye-catching tale of the titans, engineers, and pilots who raced to layout a secure and profitable passenger jet.

In Jet Age, journalist Sam Howe Verhovek explores the appearance of the 1st iteration of jet airliners and the folk who designed, equipped, and flew them. the trail to jet trip was once triumphal and amazingly rapid-less than fifty years after the Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk, nice Britain led the realm with the 1st advertisement jet airplane provider. but the pioneering British Comet was once cursed with a sad, mysterious flaw, and an upstart Seattle corporation positioned a brand new competitor within the sky: the Boeing 707 Jet Stratoliner. Jet Age vividly recreates the race among countries, worldwide airways, and rival groups of fabulous engineers for bragging rights to the 1st jet provider around the Atlantic Ocean in 1958.

on the middle of this tale are nice minds and brave souls, together with Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, who spearheaded the improvement of the Comet, whilst of his sons misplaced their lives flying past versions of his airplane; Sir Arnold corridor, the bright British aerodynamicist tasked with uncovering the Comet's deadly flaw; invoice Allen, Boeing's deceptively mild-mannered president; and Alvin "Tex" Johnston, Boeing's swashbuckling yet supremely expert attempt pilot. the extreme airplanes themselves end up characters within the drama. because the Comet and the Boeing 707 move head-to-head, flying two times as quick and excessive because the propeller planes that preceded them, the booklet captures the electrifying spirit of an period: the Jet Age.

within the spirit of Stephen Ambrose's Nothing love it within the World, Verhovek's Jet Age deals a beautiful rendering of a thrilling age and engaging expertise that completely replaced our notion of distance and time, of a triumph of engineering and layout, and of a firm that took an important gamble and received.

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In the meantime, Lockheed airplane was once operating in live performance with Trans global airways’ critical proprietor, Howard Hughes, who regardless of spells of insanity was once essentially the most visionary figures in aviation historical past. jointly they got here up with the stylish Lockheed Constellation, nicknamed the Connie, a dolphin-shaped, triple-tailed, four-engine aircraft that during a few configurations was once the main sumptuous computer ever to start within the sky. a few had eighteen sleeper cabins, with crisp linen sheets and turndown provider, and featured clean flora and four-course nutrition. Boeing, against this, used to be a three-time loser within the advertisement aviation undefined. not just used to be the 247 a gradual vendor, however the corporation additionally misplaced hundreds of thousands at the large, bulbous-nosed Flying Clipper airships operated by way of Pan American global airlines within the overdue Thirties, and it lagged with the luxury yet pricey “Stratocruiser,” an enormous flying bath of a airplane that was once drastically out-sold through its Douglas and Lockheed opponents. because the Nineteen Fifties begun, Seattle-based Boeing had under 1 percentage of the economic plane marketplace, or even that proportion was once eroding, for Boeing didn't also have a unmarried new advertisement airliner within the layout level. yet in a manner, Boeing’s mess ups contained promising seeds of fortune—for the corporate made a flow first and foremost eschewed via its extra profitable opponents in civil aviation. Boeing made up our minds to construct a jet airliner. Boeing’s selection represented an brilliant gamble and, for 5 lonely years, the corporate solid forward with no even persuading a unmarried consumer to decide to paying for its aircraft, in both its advertisement or army configurations. the very best and brightest luminaries within the airline wondered no matter if there has been a lot want or call for for jet-speed trip. “We can’t move backward to the jet,” stated C. R. Smith, president of yank airways, asserting a wide order for extra of the prop-driven DC-7s that have been already raking in lots of funds for either Douglas and American. Ralph Damon, president of Trans international airways, stated easy economics preferred a $1. five million propliner corresponding to the Constellation over the $4 million jet being peddled by means of Boeing, whether the latter provided a speedier and no more bumpy experience to the passenger. “The in basic terms factor fallacious with the jet planes of today,” stated the pinnacle of TWA, “is that they won’t make any cash. ” So Boeing outfitted a unmarried prototype, formally known as the 367-80 yet even more well known by way of the corporate nickname “Dash-80,” and this used to be the aircraft that had began displaying up within the skies over the Puget Sound quarter in 1954. The aircraft may turn into often called the 707, a laptop whose DNA will be deduced in any Boeing jetliner designed and flown due to the fact that. It was once maybe now not as recklessly attractive because the British Comet. instead of sleekly hiding the engines by means of construction them into the wing roots, the Dash-80’s jets hung down a little ungainly from the wings on spindly struts. This used to be a more effective if much less dependent placement, permitting more uncomplicated upkeep or even a short substitute if wanted.

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