Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World

Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World

Hardback

By (author) James Hamilton-Paterson

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  • Publisher: FABER & FABER
  • Format: Hardback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 238mm x 32mm | 540g
  • Publication date: 7 October 2010
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0571247946
  • ISBN 13: 9780571247943
  • Sales rank: 50,339

Product description

In 1945, Britain was the world's leading designer and builder of aircraft - a world-class achievement that was not mere rhetoric. And what aircraft they were. The sleek Comet, the first jet airliner. The awesome delta-winged Vulcan, an intercontinental bomber that could be thrown about the sky like a fighter. The Hawker Hunter, the most beautiful fighter-jet ever built and the Lightning, which could zoom ten miles above the clouds in a couple of minutes and whose pilots rated flying it as better than sex. How did Britain so lose the plot that today there is not a single aircraft manufacturer of any significance in the country? And what was it like to be alive in that marvellous post-war moment when innovative new British aircraft made their debut, and pilots were the rock stars of the age? James Hamilton-Paterson captures that season of glory in a compelling book that fuses his own memories of being a schoolboy plane spotter with a ruefully realistic history of British decline - its loss of self confidence and power. It is the story of great and charismatic machines and the men who flew them: heroes such as Bill Waterton, Neville Duke, John Derry and Bill Beaumont who took inconceivable risks, so that we could fly without a second thought.

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Author information

James Hamilton-Paterson is the author of Gerontius, winner of a Whitbread Prize; Seven-Tenths: The Sea and its Thresholds; Playing With Water; and most recently, of the wild comic trilogy Cooking With Fernet Branca, Amazing Disgrace and Rancid Pansies. He is also an unabashed fan of great aircraft.