"Epic of Flight"
by the editors of Time-Life
A list of the books in the series


 

This series, which includes twenty-one volumes, was published by Time-Life Books between 1980-1983.  The wealth of stories and photographs is particularly noteworthy in this series.  In addition to the stories, there are color representations of the most important aircraft discussed in the text.  There are also maps, sidebars of useful related topics and other useful information.  Each volume also includes a useful bibliography for those who wish to delve further into the topics.

I have included some examples below of the types of information found in the volumes:

 


An example of the kinds of informative photos and artifacts presented throughout the series

 


A sample "sidebar".  In this case a discussion of the development of 'Blind Flight'

 


A sample aircraft highlight page which features color reproductions
 


Of the many volumes, those of particular interest to golden age enthusiasts include:

The Giant Airships.  by Gouglas Botting.
This volume discusses the development and growth of the airship and airship travel.   From Alberto Santos-Dumont, Graf Zeppelin to the last great airships of the U.S. Navy and Germany before WWII, the entire scope of airships is discussed in a informative, though highlighted format.

The Airline Builders.  by Allen Oliver.
The rise of the airline from the early years of fragile crates carrying passengers between European cities to a discussion the powerful men who changed the world of air travel are covered in an informative manner in this volume.  A discussion of the American airmail/airline experiments, as well as the development of Lufthansa, KLM and other powerful air carriers are also included.  This is a very useful introduction into commercial aviation of the interwar years.

Flying the Mail.  by Dale Jackson.
Beginning with the misadventures of the young U.S. Army Lt. George Boyle, one of the first airmail pilots chosen to inaugurate the start of the postal service in May 1918, through the calamity of the airmail contract controveries, and finally to the successful transcontinental routes, the development of airmail is presented in an exciting format.  Besides the U.S. airmail, there are discussions of the French, Aeropostale route developments, the South Atlantic and South American routes pioneered by Lufthansa, and the Far East routes in China.

The Explorers.  by Donald Jackson.
The rugged men who took the airplane into unexplored and often otherwise unreachable areas of the world are discussed in this volume.  The exploits of Jiimmie Angel, discoverer of the famed 3,212-foot waterfall in Venezuela which bears his name are also covered.

Soldiers of Fortune.  Sterling Seagrave.
The bored and out of work pilots who wandered the globe following the end of hostilities in 1919 in search of adventure and pay are explored in this volume.  The Bolshevik's efforts to overrun Poland in the 20's, the adventures and disallusionment of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), and the exploits of the Flying Tigers in China in the late 1930's are all discussed.

Women Aloft.  Valerie Moolman.

Architects of Air Power.  by David Nevin.
This volume explores the developments of air power following World War I.  The controversial exploits of General William "Billy" Mitchell, the father of strategic bombing and outspoken proponent for an independent U.S. Air Force, and the rise of the Japanese and German military aerial machines are also discussed.  There is also an excellent discussion of the Spanish Civil War, the preview of the aerial tactics and might which was to come following September, 1939.

The Pathfinders.  by David Nevin.
The lure of the Atlantic ocean and the success of Lindbergh, and those who tried and failed are all discussed.  The flights of Charles Kingsford-Smith and Charles Ulm, and the conquering of the Pacific ocean is also covered.The flights of Italo Balbo and of Wiley Post are also covered.

The Bush Pilots.  by Editors of Time-Life (under chief editor, Dale Brown).
Legendary men like Harold Gillam (Alaska's first bush pilot), Bernt Balchen, Ben Eilson and Bob Reeve (One of the most successful of the bush pilots), are all discussed in this volume.  Besides Alaska, other areas of the world in which bush pilots fly are covered, including Latin America and New Guinea.

Barnstormers & Speed Kings.  by Paul O'Neil.
The glorious heyday of the Flying Gypsies, barnstormers and other adventurers of the post-war era of the 1920's are explored.  The development, popularity and decline of the "flying circus" is also discussed.  Finally, the popularity and dangers of the number one spectator sport of the U.S. in the late 1920's until 1939--the Air Races--is covered.


And no aviation collection of books is complete without:

True stories of flying are in Marvin Arnold's book "Flying Stories"

Stories of early flying adventures are in Marvin Arnold's novel "Flight of the Setting Sun"

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