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Glenn Curtiss and the Birth of Naval Aviation
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781591148791
  • Binding: Hardcover & eBook
  • Era: 20th Century
  • Number of Pages: 304
  • Subject: Naval Aviation
  • Date Available: May 2010
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Full Description:

William Trimble is the 2011 recipient of the “Admiral Arthur W. Radford Award for Excellence in Naval Aviation History and Literature.

In this biography, William F. Trimble examines the pioneering work of Glenn Curtiss and his role in the origins of aviation in the U.S. Navy in the years up to and through World War I. A self-taught mechanic and inventor, Curtiss was a key figure in the development of the airplane during the early part of the century and his contributions to aviation are well known. This book's careful examination of his partnership with the Navy breaks new ground in revealing significant new details of his contributions. Curtiss's links to the Navy came as result of aviation advocates within the Navy, chief among them Captain Washington I. Chambers, who recognized that the Navy had special requirements for airplanes and their operations, and for aviators and their training. Curtiss helped meet the special requirements of the service for aircraft, particularly those with the potential for operating with naval vessels at sea or in conducting long-distance flights over water. He also was instrumental in training the first naval aviators. Curtiss and the Navy continued their collaboration through World War I, reaching a climax in 1919 with the first transatlantic flight of the famed Navy-Curtiss NC flying boat.

This book addresses the broader implications of the Curtiss-Navy collaboration in the context of the long-standing trend of government-private cooperation in the introduction and development of new technologies. It also explores the interactive dynamics of weapons procurement and technological change within a large and entrenched bureaucracy and helps lay to rest the persistent myth that the Navy resisted the introduction of aviation

William F. Trimble is professor of history at Auburn University in Alabama, where he has taught for twenty-five years, and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. He is the author or coauthor of six books, including three published by the Naval Institute Press: Attack from the Sea: A History of the U.S. Navy's Seaplane Striking Force, Admiral William A. Moffett: Architect of Naval Aviation, and Wings for the Navy: A History of the Naval Aircraft Factory, 1917-1956.

Praise for Hero of the Air

"Hero of the Air gives us an in-depth look at a key aviation pioneer who had an immense impact on aviation in general and naval aviation in particular. Although Glenn Curtiss was not the first to fly, one cannot deny his critical role in the early days of flight. William Trimble’s biography is a must-read for both aviation and naval historians."

Air & Space Power Journal, May-June 2014

“Meticulously documented and illustrated by 47 photographs, Hero of the Air is a solid contribution to our understanding of the early days of naval aviation, a fitting addition to the literature accompanying the hundredth anniversary of Eugene Ely’s brave plunge into the unknown off the bow of the light cruiser USS Birmingham in November 1910.”

The Aerospace Professional, January 2012

“William Trimble has produced the best biography of Curtiss to date. Well-known for biographies of naval aviation pioneers Jerome C. Hunsaker and Admiral William A. Moffett, Trimble builds on his previous work to explore Curtiss’s central role in the development of American naval aviation. Existing scholarly biographies of [Captain Washington I.] Chambers, [Lieutenant Theodore] Ellyson, and [Lieutenant John H.] Towers discuss the development of naval aviation from the Navy’s perspective. Trimble’s book presents the other half of this story and offers new insights into the partnership between Curtiss and the Navy and how this shaped the development of early Navy aircraft.

A number of new books on naval aviation have appeared in the last few years for the centennial of U.S. naval aviation, which the Navy will officially commemorate in 2011. Hero of the Air is among the most important of them. Trimble offers an insightful analysis of the Curtiss-Navy relationship that is essential reading for aviation scholars.”

The Journal of Military History, July 2011

"...An important book that enthusiasts and historians should read and add to their libraries."

Naval Aviation News, Spring 2011

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