In 1919, aviation was in its infancy when a hotel owner named Orteig offered the first pilot
to fly nonstop across the Atlantic, from New York to Paris, a prize of $25,000. By 1927 the prize
still had not been awarded. $25,000 was a fortune back then, and the feat was considered
impossible. This is the story of the first three men to shepherd their tiny planes across the
Charles Lindbergh, "Lucky Lindy," flew the Spirit of St. Louis. He was virtually unknown,
and had tried in vain to be the pilot of the Columbia. Charles A. Levine owned the
Columbia, but used the well-known test pilot, Clarence Chamberlin, at the controls. The
Columbia already held the world's endurance record, having flown over 30,000 miles. The
third plane was the multi-engined America, piloted by Richard E. Byrd, the Arctic explorer,
which held a crew of four. All the world watched as the impossible feat became reality.
Norman Finklestein captures the excitement of the times as he traces the rise of aviation
from the first flight of the Kitty Hawk to the great Atlantic race. He tells the history
of each man, their dreams of greatness, and the setbacks and problems they encountered. The book
is illustrated with black and white photographs throughout that show the instrument panels and
crowded cockpits of the planes along with plenty of photographs of the pilots and the crowds
that greeted them.
I thoroughly enjoyed this sojourn back into history and comparing it to today's aviation miracles
that are just taken for granted. This book belongs in every school library. It tells of one of
history's finest moments.