This official NASA history document - converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction - presents biographies of famous space and aviation pioneers, including Werner von Braun, Hugh Dryden, Bob Gilruth, Donald Douglas, and others. The individuals profiled include barnstormers, entrepreneurs, military strategists, and architects of space flight.
The introduction states: "These essays in celebration of the Wright brothers' first flight 100 years ago grew out of presentations by a group of prominent scholars in 2003 at a conference sponsored by the NASA History Division and held at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The volume focuses on the careers of some of the many men and women who helped to realize the dream of flight both through the atmosphere and beyond. These accounts are original and compelling because they examine the history of flight through the lens of biography. Collectively, these individuals helped to shape American aerospace history. There are obviously many other individuals that could, and arguably should, have been included in this collection, but we believe that the cross section of diverse individuals contained in this volume is important because it is symbolic of the dream of flight as a whole. These people all devoted their lives, and sometimes even sacrificed them, to the demands required for its realization. The reasons behind the dreams were diverse. The technological potential first demonstrated by the Wright brothers enabled those who followed them to use flight as a means of racial uplift, gender equalization, personal adventure, commercial gain, military superiority, and space exploration. The history of flight is more than a story of technology; it had important cultural consequences as well, and these are some of the themes that the following biographies explore. We have arranged the essays roughly chronologically, though the careers of the people described here often span more than one period of history. None of the people in this volume were inventors like the Wright brothers, but their contributions to flight were nevertheless significant. They were daredevil pilots, entrepreneurs, business men and women, military strategists, and managers of large-scale technology who advanced the art, science, and business of air and space travel, often through sheer force of character. The final paper serves as an epilogue as well as a tribute to the Wright brothers. It describes a reenactment of their important glider experiments at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where the Wrights' childhood dream was first realized."
Contents: Chapter 1 - Bessie Coleman: Race and Gender Realities Behind Aviation Dreams / Chapter 2 - She Flew for Women: Amelia Earhart, Gender, and American Aviation / Chapter 3 - Sharing a Vision: Juan Trippe, Charles Lindbergh, and the Development of International Air Transport / Chapter 4 - The Autogiro Flies the Mail! Eddie Rickenbacker, Johnny Miller, Eastern Airlines, and Experimental Airmail Service with Rotorcraft, 1939-1940 / Chapter 5 - Donald Douglas: From Aeronautics to Aerospace / Chapter 6 - Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., American Hero / Chapter 7 - Curtis E LeMay and the Ascent of American Strategic Airpower / Chapter 8 - Willy Ley: Chronicler of the Early Space Age / Chapter 9 - Who Was Hugh Dryden and Why Should We Care? / Chapter 10 - Wernher von Braun: A Visionary as Engineer and Manager / Chapter 11 - Godfather to the Astronauts: Robert Gilruth and the Birth of Human Spaceflight / Chapter 12 - Celebrating the Invention of Flight in a Hands-On Way: Replicating the 1902 Experimental Glider Flights of the Wright Brothers.