My friend Tom put me onto another very enjoyable book, In Love With Flying, by Kenneth W. Ford. (Tom also wrote very thoughtful Amazon reviews of this and Dr. Ford’s latest book, Building the H Bomb: A Personal History, which you can find here and here.)

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Ercoupe (wikipedia photo)

Dr. Ford, a physicist who circulated in the very uppermost strata of the profession with luminaries like Wheeler, Fermi, von Neumann, and Bethe, was also a highly skilled pilot, particularly of gliders, and his amateur flying career spanned the golden years of aviation. In Love With Flying resonated with me quite a lot. Dr. Ford began his flight training in an Ercoupe, a small, early-50’s era airplane whose main distinction at the time was having an aluminum skin instead of fabric, and having no rudder pedals. The omission of rudder pedals was supposed to make the craft impossible to spin, which it didn’t, quite, but it did make it pretty impossible to land in a strong crosswind, so quite a few owners modifed them to add rudder pedals. My own father was a very enthusiastic amateur pilot, and one of my earliest flying memories was of riding with him in a rented Ercoupe at age 10 or so.

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