3 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

“The Guide says there is an art to flying”, said Ford, “or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” ― Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe and Everything

For millennia man wished he could fly like the birds, people had been up in hot air balloons since 1783, but it wasn’t until 1904 with the first powered flight from the Wright Brothers that we saw the dawn of a new era. These early pioneers of the air began to fly around America, Charles Lindbergh became the first to fly from America to Paris in his epic flight and flight changed the way we connected with others around the world. But people still wanted to reach for the stars.

It would take a World War for humanity to develop the technology that would make this possible though and it was the losing side that gave the rest of the world the rockets that would enable men to finally leave the grip of gravity for the first time. That brilliant scientist was Wernher Von Braun, a former Nazi, who spent the billions of dollars that the US government wanted to spend in the Cold War space race. This space race put men in orbit, gave us technologies that we are using today and 65 years later after the first powered flight, put the first men on the moon.

Two pictures from the Apollo missions Earthrise, taken during the first manned mission, and The Blue Marble, taken in the final one, became some of the most reproduced and influential photos of all time. It became the image that inspired the environmental movements around the world as people realised that this small blue planet was our home and that getting more than half a dozen people off at any one time was near impossible. We only have this planet. If we bugger it up, who knows what could happen

This is an enjoyable book on the rise of man to overcome gravity, rise from the surface of the earth and achieve the monumental task to stand on the surface of our nearest satellite. Good overview of the history of flight and the links that those first pilots had to the rocket men.

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