Good Reads

As you might imagine, I like to read about the history and development of the aviation and airline industries. These days it is easy enough to go on line and download all sorts of resources. Aircraft producers provide copious amounts of information but I still like to buy the occasional book to read.

Here are some that have found their way onto my library shelves.

Over the years I have picked up snippets of information about German engineer and aircraft designer Hugo Junkers but there hasn't until now been a complete biography written in English. Junkers started out producing boilers and radiators, and, acquiring an interest in aviation, he set about designing all-metal airplanes. He built a company, Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke AG, more commonly referred to simply as "Junkers," that by World War II the company was producing some of the most successful Luftwaffe planes, including the Ju 88, the primary bomber of the German air force.

But Junkers was no war monger: he was a social-pacifist who saw aviation as a way to unify the world. Already before the Nazi's coming to power, he was seen as a thorn in the side of the Air Ministry, who thought the aviation industry should primarily serve the needs of the state. Not long after the Nazi party came to power in 1933, Junkers was forced to surrender his patents, found his holdings seized by the state, and was placed under house arrest. Prevented from meeting with his past fellow workers, Junkers died in 1935. At least he was spared the ignominy of seeing aircraft bearing his name leash terror across Europe.

A recent work by Richard Byers fills the gap. Not surprisingly, I went online and purchased a copy of "Flying Man: Hugo Junkers and the Dream of Aviation." The book covers Junkers' early inventions, including the first all-metal aircraft, the forced merger with Fokker and the eventual split, as well as the machinations to gain control of his business by the state in the early 1930s. I can highly recommend it to those seeking a deeper understanding of the early German aviation industry.

The blurb on the cover reads: "This book tells the full story of ANA, the forgotten giant of Australian aviation. Told through the eyes of ANA's pilots, hostesses, engineers and other staff, there are many humorous and dramatic stories, including the pioneering Bass Strait flights of the early 1930s, submarine hunting in DC-3s in 1939-40, a unique courier service to Manila in 1945, some extraordinary migrant charters in the late 1940s, and evacuation flights ahead of the advancing Communists in 1949. As well as describing ANA's key role in the development of safe and reliable intercapital routes, this book covers the airline's lesser known services including the 'Gulf run', the aerial ambulance out of Cairns, and the Riverina milk runs. Filling a major gap in Australian aviation history, this book will make fascinating reading for aviation enthusiasts, students of history and the general reader alike." I can only agree that it deserves a place in your collection.