Mavericks of the Sky
by: Barry Rosenberg and Catherine Macauley
Published by: Morrow
Buy From Amazon.com
Reviewed by Jeff Foster
In the historical non-fiction, Mavericks of the Sky, the authors have recounted the exacting tale of bold men during the last stages of World War One. With hardened courage they worked against the grain of public and political opinion, and boldly took steps to create the first United States Air Mail Service.
With a shoestring budget, cast-off military equipment and neophyte pilots with a sense of daring unequalled in this day and age, two sons of Texas--Albert Burleson and Otto Praeger--stood firm in their convictions. The future of the United States Postal service lay in creating a service that would take advantage of the Wright Brothers flight accomplishment only a few years earlier.
The feat accomplished by Praeger and his men in less than three years was the precursor to all flight operations that take place on a day-to-day basis in this country today.
From an inauspicious and somewhat deadly beginning, the US Air Mail Service was forged by the guts and sweat of Praeger and the first pilots of the aptly nicknamed "Suicide Club." This small group of dedicated men spawned the first commercial U.S. airlines and the person-to-person connection by mail that we hold so dear today.
The account of the first transcontinental flight on February 22-23, 1921, from San Francisco to New York, is awe-inspiring in itself. The fact it was accomplished in the time (33 hours and 20 minutes) we consider industry standard today is astounding. The bar was set high during those two days. The difference: today we use high-flying jet aircraft to deliver our airmail shipments. In 1921 a half dozen pilots used a variety of single engine, open cockpit aircraft made of canvas and wood, in all weather, rarely flying higher than ten thousand feet.
Armchair Interviews says: In Mavericks of the Sky Barry Rosenberg and Catherine Macauley extensively researched and gave us a concise accounting of these men and the trials and tribulations they endured in the effort to construct the delivery systems for the U.S. Mail.
From our armchair to yours...