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A History of Flight through its Martyrs, Oddballs and Daredevils

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.

  • Publication date: October 1, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781780744094
  • RRP: £7.99
  • Pages: 224
  • Publication date: October 1, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781780745657
  • RRP: £5.99
  • Pages: 224


'Intriguing and entertaining'.

Daily Mail

"Gripping... dazzling tales of madness and derring-do."

Brian Clegg, author of Inflight Science

"A hugely enjoyable roller-coaster aerial ride in the company of oddballs and heroes, complete with acts of mindless msochism in the name of science."

Jonathan Clancy, author of Spitfire: The Biography


Wall Street Journal

“A mix of good old-fashioned silliness and some fine science writing.”

BBC Focus

David Darling

David Darling is a science writer, astronomer and tutor. He is the author of nearly fifty books, including the bestselling Equations of Eternity. He lives in Dundee, Scotland.

Together with Agnijo Banerjee, he is the co-author of the Weird Maths trilogy, and The Biggest Number in the World.

Author page

More books by David Darling

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