Book: “Texas Takes Wing”


Book: “Texas Takes Wing: A Century of Flight in the Lone Star State”
By Barbara Ganson, University of Texas Press, 2014.

From the publisher’s website: “Tracing the hundred-year history of aviation in Texas, aviator and historian Barbara Ganson brings to life the colorful personalities that shaped the phenomenally successful development of this industry in the state. Weaving stories and profiles of aviators, designers, manufacturers, and those in related services, Texas Takes Wing covers the major trends that propelled Texas to the forefront of the field. Covering institutions from San Antonio’s Randolph Air Force Base (the West Point of this branch of service) to Brownsville’s airport with its Pan American Airlines instrument flight school (which served as an international gateway to Latin America as early as the 1920s) to Houston’s Johnson Space Center, home of Mission Control for the U.S. space program, the book provides an exhilarating timeline and engaging history of dozens of unsung pioneers as well as their more widely celebrated peers.” (See more here)

The book has been briefly reviewed in the journal “Technology and Culture” (vol. 56, no. 2, April 2015). Here are a couple of excerpts from that review: “Ganson adds to the history of flight by covering the first one hundred years of Texas flight from a regional, national, and international perspective. She argues that the common themes that connect Texas flight to the broader narrative of aviation/aerospace history are rugged individual pioneers with a ‘willingness to take risks, entrepreneurialism as well as the determination not to allow obstacles to stand in one’s way, whether they be race, gender, financial constraints, government regulations, or physical limitations’ (p. 182). Ganson divides the book into nine chronological/topical chapters spanning early pioneers, the world wars, design and manufacturing, and the space age. The author is able to give voice not only to the elites of flying such as Charles Lindbergh, Wiley Post, Howard Hughes, and Edward White Jr., but also to flight pioneers such as Matilde Moisant—the second female licensed pilot in the United States—the Stinson family, Bessie Coleman, and Major Benjamin D. Foulis—an early champion of military aviation who brought the Army Air Corps to Texas…. [T]he work raise[s] interesting points about technology and society, but the theme of flight’s transition from an “unproven technology” to one that represented the hard power/soft power, war/peace dichotomy would be of interest to military history scholars. The author pays particular attention to the changing fashions of flight and how they reinforced both traditional and shifting gender roles. . . . Overall, Ganson’s connections of Texas flight with the broader implications of flight nationally and internationally make it an excellent addition to the history of technology and culture.”

~Thanks to Asha W. Agrawal for this post

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