The Atlantic had proved a graveyard for many ships, and when the first butterfly craft began to fly it after the World War I, all the omens warned that it would swallow up planes as well. Nonetheless, the pioneers – Read, Alcock, Brown and Lindbergh, as well as many who gambled and lost – continued to pit themselves against the odds.
Today, as we know, the luxury liners have disappeared and the Atlantic crossing is now ‘the water jump’. David Beaty involves us not only in the drama of man against the elements, but also in the increasingly vehement struggle of “man against man” the race to be the first, the race to beat the ships, the race to run a successful commercial airline, the race to be the fastest. Opening with a passenger who is taking off in a jumbo jet, he unfolds the tapestry of what went before – the vision and blindness, the guesses, mistakes and waste, the political interference and technical advances.
Thanks to this book, we share in the excitement and understand the scale of one of the epic achievements of the last century.