by Richard Havers
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Aircraft have revolutionized the way we live. Billions of passengers take to the air every year and around the world airlines operate almost 80,000 flights daily. Before the revolution, flying was, as often as not, a personal struggle in which a lone pilot and his single-engine aircraft tangled with the elements, the limits of his own endurance and the uncertainties of technology. Many of the endeavors of the early aviation pioneers ended in heroic failure. Quite a few of the aircraft pictured in this unique collection of the world's classic aircraft met the same fate.
The photos, many of which have never been published, tell the story of civil aviation; illustrating how quickly aircraft design developed and how radically things changed from the early days of balloon flight through to supersonic travel. As aircraft designer Igor Sikorsky said, Aeronautics was neither an industry nor a science. It was a miracle.
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