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Rocket Man

And Other Extraordinary Characters in the History of Flight

The wonder of flight has long captured the human imagination. In this beguiling history – ranging from the first aircraft to astronauts and beyond – David Darling tells the stories of the true life adventurers whose wonder has translated into bizarre contraptions, magnificent achievements and, sometimes, startling folly.

Discover outrageous attempts to fly like a bird and fall from the edge of space. Meet Napoleonic ballooniste Sophie Blanchard and her daredevil husband; the real “X-Men” who flew the supersonic experimental “X-planes” for the US Air Force; stuntman Lincoln Beachey, looping-the-loop in a pinstripe suit; and, of course, The Rocket Man himself: Yves Rossy, who in 2006 was the first person to cross the English Channel using a jet-pack.

Eccentric and reckless, Darling’s daring cast of dreamers is guaranteed to entertain and inspire.

David Darling is a science writer and astronomer. He is the author of many books, including the bestselling Equations of Eternity, and the popular online resource The Worlds of David Darling. He lives in Dundee, Scotland.

“A consummate collection of tales of the fearless and the feckless. Darling treats his subject with an authority tempered by the gentle humour that is the mark of a great story-teller.”

– Justin Pollard, author of The Interesting Bits: The History You Might Have Missed

‘David Darling has cleverly avoided wheeling out all the old familiar names… a rollicking, rip-roaring tale. 4 stars.’

– Popular Science

“Gripping… dazzling tales of madness and derring do.”

– Brian Clegg, author of Inflight Science

“A hugely enjoyable roller-coaster aerial ride in the company of oddballs and heroes, complete with vertiginous frights, dances of death, lonely impulses of delight and acts of mindless masochism in the name of science.”

– Jonathan Glancey, author of Spitfire: The Biography

"Gripping... dazzling tales of madness and derring-do."

– Brian Clegg, author of Inflight Science

"A hugely enjoyable roller-coaster aerial ride in the company of oddballs and heroes, complete with acts of mindless msochism in the name of science."

– Jonathan Clancy, author of Spitfire: The Biography

“Impressive.”

– Wall Street Journal

“A mix of good old-fashioned silliness and some fine science writing.”

– BBC Focus

More books from this author: David Darling