cover image Turbulent Skies C

Turbulent Skies C

T. A. Heppenheimer, Heppenheimer. John Wiley & Sons, $30 (414pp) ISBN 978-0-471-10961-7

This third entry in the Sloan Technology series is an important addition to the history of technology as well as business. Heppenheimer (Colonies in Space) is as gifted at explaining the development of the jet engine in terms a nonspecialist can follow as he is at tracing the rise and triumph of the aircraft industry over ground transport. U.S. commercial flight got off the ground in the 1920s principally because Washington subsidized it for carrying airmail. Government assistance has continued up to the present as such major manufacturers as Boeing, Pratt and Whitney and GE have converted advances financed by the Air Force to building aircraft for the commercial market. Heppenheimer's accounts of the collapse of Pan Am, the demise of Eastern, the enormous gamble made by Boeing in the 1970s, the abandonment of plans for an American answer to the Concorde and the still-reverberating 1978 deregulation demonstrate some of the ``unintended consequences'' that are the focus of this informative study. Illustrations. (Sept.)