Friday, June 8, 2018

Fact Friday: First Flight around the World by Tim Grove

First Flight around the World: the adventures of the American fliers who won the race by Tim Grove. 88 p. Abrams, April, 2015. 9781419714825. 

File under the many other facts I never knew: In 1924, in an effort to be the first to circumnavigate the globe in an airplane, the U.S. Army sent eight young men out in teams of two in four biplanes to do so. Not to be outdone, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Italy and Argentina sent teams as well. This book documents the race with all the perils faced by brave young men in the infancy of aviation. 

We in the twenty-first century complain when our air travel is delayed for a few hours. We sit in pressurized cabins and are served meals. While air travel is admittedly growing more insulting by the day, we have it easy compared to 1924. Pilots today navigate with computers and other instrumentation, not by sight and manual calculations in cockpits that are open to the elements. Pilots in this race dealt with extremes of temperature from the heat and sunburned legs to freezing temperatures. Their fur-lined clothing did not keep out the cold and when it rained it felt "like lead shot being thrown into our faces and against our hands." (p.24) They traveled with a mechanic and extra engine parts. 

The design of this well-told tale is colorful, appealing and busy. There are plenty of archival photos, maps and text boxes to pore over. Backmatter includes information about the fate of the other countries' teams; a glossary; pilots' itinerary; endnotes; bibliography and photo and art credits. 

Hand this oversize beauty to your history or aviation buffs. It's a great addition to any middle/ high school collection. By the way, it was a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist. I can always count on children's informational literature to add to my knowledge. 

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