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Wings: a history of aviation from kites to the Space Age

4 January 2013

Wings: a history of aviation from kites to the Space Age

Wings: a history of aviation from kites to the Space Age, Tom D. Crouch, 2003, ISBN 0-393-05767-4, 725 pp.


Wings promises to deliver well since its author, Tom D. Crouch, is a senior curator at the Nation Air & Space Museum – and this book is no disappointment. Material covers the breadth of flight and is rich in detail of early flight like no other book I have read. It is a true joy to read as one item after another jumps off of the pages to enlighten and educate.

Thirty years in the making, Wings, is well indexed making it an excellent research book for one’s library. Crouch is an excellent story telling, not simply relating a string of facts and dates, instead seeming able to have us there to witness the events with his illustrations of conversations and personal details. Crouch knows that aviation’s history is about people and they are the subjects of this book. His vivid writing style takes the reader back in time as if going through a time machine.

Wings, is especially strong in regard to aviation’s early history and that alone is worth the price of Crouch’s book. Modern history, the last two or three decades is presented in a more condensed form but Crouch has hit his mark with his deep knowledge of aviation’s people, and events. The trajectory of this book is simply outstanding though a few more foreign aviators could have been included in this work – notably Jean Batten who is one of the World’s most accomplished and brave aviators. He does make a judgment about not needing to look outside the United States for early aviator history, though some are addressed, which is not in keeping with the way the rest of the book is written. Only one odd sentence on one page, though.

No one gets paid enough for a piece of work which takes thirty years to complete. Works such as these are due to dedication and professionalism so we owe Tom D. Crouch our thanks and admiration for taking on such a huge task, aviation’s entire history, in his writing of Wings.  


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