Mayday! : A History of Flight Through its Martyrs, Oddballs, and Daredevils by David Darling
In a world without aircraft, to believe flight might be possible required a certain kind of character. You had to be starry-eyed, a possessor of practical ingenuity, nerves of steel and a level of sanity that would be best described as deficient. In Mayday!, David Darling tells the stories of the unconventional aviators across history who have been willing to risk all to further their craft.
Meet Sophie Blanchard, a balloonist of nervous disposition whom Napoleon charged with organizing balloon displays at all major ceremonies in France. Then there's the daredevil stuntman Lincoln Beachey, the dogfighter aces of WWI, the man who performed the dance of death - switching planes in mid-air, the real "X-Men" who flew at the edge of space, and the BASE jumpers who want to fly without wings. The cast are eccentric, reckless and extraordinary, and Mayday! is made up of their riveting tales, bizarre contraptions, magnificent achievements and, sometimes, startling folly.