He flew higher than the Wright brothers and faster than Blériot. Dubbed “kingpin man-eagle” by fans in San Francisco he was one of the most audacious and popular flying men of his era.
“This book clearly makes a major contribution to the early history of aviation but will also appeal to a much wider public as an interesting record of society at that time.”
John Thirkettle, CEng, MRAeS, Aerospace Professional
In 1909 Latham’s stylish Antoinette monoplane burst onto world press headlines with risk-taking flights that broke records for height, speed and flying skills in France, Britain, Europe and later in the United States. But despite public adulation, did devious political manipulations in London and Paris contrive to cheat him from achieving lasting fame as the first man to fly the English Channel?
As a true “man of his time” the story of Latham’s life and loves in this page-turning biography is set against the background of a fast-changing world soon to be plunged into the horrors of the 1914-18 First War. His circle of close friends within high society on both sides of the Atlantic included notorious celebrities, sporting personalities and avant-garde artists such as Irish-born Eileen Gray. A few years earlier he had led exploratory treks in remote regions of the Sudan and Abyssinia and travelled extensively in the Far East before returning home in 1908 to become the most talked about aviator of his day.
When Latham was killed during an official but covert mission to a military zone in the French Congo in 1912, his death raised uneasy questions which can now intrigue readers. Was it truly an accident – or was it murder?
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“Une excellente étude comportant une riche iconographie souvent inédite permettant d’apporter un nouvel éclairage sur l’un des pionniers les plus attachants des débuts héroïques de l’aviation.”
Thierry Matra, www.Aerostories.org
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