J. Gordon Vaeth distills the history of the United States Navy's lighter-than-air (LTA) program from its inception to its dissolution into a single volume. Explained are the circumstances and scientific advancements that prompted the military to explore the use of balloons and airships in warfare, often in partnership with private enterprise such as Goodyear and General Mills. Vaeth also recounts tragic events, including the loss of the Akron, and explains the rudiments of the science behind various aviation developments.
A good portion of the book is devoted to recounting the results of the Gordon Bennett, a very important gas ballooning race in which teams from the military participated. In this context, he concentrates on the life of Tex Settle, one of the prominent military LTA aviators.
The book does continue after World War II, but relatively glosses over the period of manned exploratory balloon flight into the stratosphere. The history concludes on the brink of manned space flight with the ending of military ballooning. The account is filled with black and white photographs of the balloons, airships, and the personalities involved in flying them.
This report prepared by ldpaulson