At the Dawn of Airpower, the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps’ Approach to the Airplane, 1907-1917
Books about the first decade of aircraft development and use by the U.S. military are few and far between, and several have come from the Naval Institute Press, the publication arm of the venerable U.S. Naval Institute, based in Annapolis, Maryland, which the United States Naval Academy also calls home. This latest book on the subject of early military aviation is a lengthy discussion of how the three main American services first discovered aviation then took their time in indoctrinating their first aviation crews and their aircraft into halting use and understanding. It wasn’t easy. Few major technological advances are. It might be said that even today, a century later, we are still learning how to best design and build and finally use the descendants of these flimsy doped canvas-and-wood flying machines. The author has served as an experienced curator of several aviation museums and departments, including the imposing National Museum of the U.S. Marine Corps at Quantico, Virginia, certainly not to be missed by tourists of the Washington, D.C., area and especially Marine Corps veterans of any years’ duration. To an extent, his writing emulates that of an academician, typical of a Ph.D.’s (which he is) doctoral thesis, and it starts out with a lengthy heavy-worded introductory first chapter describing how each service began its particular air department.