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Building a Great Air and Space Library

To find the very best books about the world of aviation and spaceflight, we asked for recommendations.

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Fans of research aircraft should check out Flying the Frontiers: NACA and NASA Experimental Aircraft by Arthur Pearcy (Airlife, 1993), which lists every aircraft flown at every research center. Also good: Jay Miller's recently updated The X-Planes: X-1 to X-45: 3rd Edition (Midland, 2001).

And finally there's the legendary Jane's All the World's Aircraft (Jane's), an annual book series describing in exquisite detail every aircraft currently in production or under development.

Memoir & Biography

The experience of flight can be so life-altering that it is only natural that it would inspire the writing of autobiographies and memoirs. We have included memoirs throughout the categories of this guide; the following are works that fall outside our divisions.

I Could Never Be So Lucky Again by General James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle (written with Doolittle biographer Carroll V. Glines; Schiffer, 1995). Covers Doolittle's racing, his experiments "flying blind," as he called instrument flying, and his experiences during and after World War II.

Forever Flying by R.A. "Bob" Hoover (written with Mark Shaw; Pocket Books, 1996). The famous airshow pilot recalls, as the book's subtitle promises, "Fifty Years of High-Flying Adventures, from Barnstorming in Prop Planes to Dogfighting Germans to Testing Supersonic Jets."

Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed by Ben R. Rich and Leo Janos (Little, Brown, 1994). As much a portrait of Lockheed's legendary Skunk Works, which the author eventually headed, as it is an autobiography of Rich.

Burning the Days by James Salter (Random House, 1997). A literary writer recounts his life's story, including his service as an F-86 pilot in the Korean War.

Jet: The Story of a Pioneer by Frank Whittle (Frederick Muller, 1954). The author's fascinating struggle to invent the gas turbine engine.

Aviation's Superstars

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