Aviation history buffs, rejoice!

1917albatrosdva_868ecrsmw1“The engine is the heart of an aeroplane, but the pilot is its soul.”

My favorite aviation quotation comes from The War in the Air, the six-volume official history of Britain’s Royal Air Force and its predecessors, the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service in World War I, by Sir Walter Raleigh and H. A. Jones.

Well, aviation and military history buffs, rejoice! The first and best-known volume of that hard-to-find set can now be read free of charge at books.google.com.

See The War in the Air, Volume I, written by Sir Walter Raleigh and published in 1922. If you get hooked and want to read the rest of the set, by H.A. Jones (Raleigh died about the time the first book was published), you’ll need to hunt down the remaining volumes via library or rare-book store. But it’s worth it! (Also available as a free ebook download.)

These fascinating volumes cover the 11-year history of powered flight up to World War I, and then address every aspect of aerial logistics, strategy, and technology through the “Great War,” on a mission-by-mission basis.

From the first tentative attempts at aerial combat using hand-dropped bombs, pistols (and grappling hooks!), to the German Zeppelin raids and formation of the world’s first independent air force, this series covers all stages and theaters of the first-ever war in the air based on official records and eye-witness narratives. Even if you read only the online-accessible first volume you are in for quite a treat!

©2009 Gregory N. Brown

One thought on “Aviation history buffs, rejoice!

  1. You missed out the use of Holland & Holland elephant guns, Winchester repeating rifles, shotguns, flechettes (sharpened steel darts), Mauser automatics, Le Prieur rockets and much more! Early air warfare was individual, to say the least.


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