Since Wilbur and Orville Wright's first machine-powered flight, adventurers have pondered the prospect of flying around the world. Though in the early 20th century the idea seemed as plausible as traveling to Mars, aviators made their first attempts in the wake of World War I and have never looked back. This history of around-the-world flights explores the endeavor, starting with the first tentative journeys that allowed changing aircraft en route due to expected breakdowns. Once flying machines demonstrated reliable performance over global distances, a period of one-upmanship emerged, with each new venture striving to outdo the previous one. Today, even with international air travel having become routine, aviators strive to set records, w using unconventional aircraft and fuel sources. Paying tribute to the supporting personnel as well as to the flight captains at the center of attention, this work celebrates aviation's continued spirit of adventure.
Patrick M. Stinson has published articles in Air Power History and the U.S. Naval Institute's Proceedings Magazine. He works for PBS and lives in Round Hill, Virginia.