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Louisiana Aviation

An Extraordinary History in Photographs

Vincent P. Caire

Publication Year: 2012

At the beginning of the twentieth century the skies presented a new frontier, one that attracted daredevils, businessmen, politicians, and engineers enticed by a new form of transportation. Louisiana entrepreneurs and pilots proved instrumental in ushering in the Golden Age of Aviation. They advanced aircraft design, revolutionized aerial crop dusting, pioneered airmail routes, pushed the limits of stunt flying, and entertained spectators with air races. A pilot and freelance writer with more than twenty years of experience in the aviation industry, Vincent P. Caire chronicles the state’s history of flight in 196 vintage and contemporary photographs, many never-before published. Photos of early aviation pioneer John Moisant, air racing champion General James Doolittle, barnstormer Roscoe Turner, aircraft designer James Wedell, and founder of Delta Airlines C. E. Woolman reflect Louisiana’s zeal for aeronautics. Caire explains how the efforts of Senator Huey P. Long and Harry P. Williams, co-owner of the Wedell-Williams Air Service in Patterson, Louisiana, influenced the development of viable airmail routes throughout the southeastern United States. Rarely seen photographs depict the Art Deco elegance of the first modern, multioperational passenger terminal in the nation—Shushan Airport in New Orleans. A captivating visual tour spanning one hundred years, Louisiana Aviation celebrates the state’s air history, evident in Louisiana’s seventy airports, 5,000 aircraft, 7,000 pilots, and numerous airshows in operation today.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-6


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pp. vi-viii

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pp. ix-x

When Vince told me he was going to write a book about Louisiana aviation, the first thing that came to mind was, What took you so long? What a great subject! I have been flying since I was a teenager, beginning over south Louisiana, and now all over the world for the motion picture and TV industry. ...

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A Note About Louisiana Aviation

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pp. xi-xii

Aviation truly touches every part of our lives, and the benefits it brings to our community border on being immeasurable. For example, agricultural crop spraying, or “crop-dusting,” ensures healthy food for our tables. ...

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pp. 1-2

Louisiana skies play a significant role in U.S. civil aviation. This collection of historic and contemporary photographs introduces the places and personalities associated with this little-known legacy. Spanning the Pelican State—from the banks of the Red River in Shreveport and Alexandria, the cotton fields of Monroe, ...

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1. Beginnings

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pp. 3-14

The sky presents humanity with a tempting challenge. Though curious and ever versatile, human beings are simply incapable of naturally defying gravity or maneuvering above the surface of the earth. ...

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2. An Era of Entrepreneurs

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pp. 15-46

Between 1927 and 1935, flying advanced to center stage in popular culture, rivaling Hollywood in entertaining citizens throughout the country. Ironically, on its way to becoming one of the forces most influential in shaping the twentieth century, aviation shared the spotlight with the Great Depression. ...

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3. Skies Fit for a Kingfish: Shushan Airport

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pp. 47-66

Governor Huey P. Long hoped to achieve his ambition to win the White House in the 1936 presidential election. As a means of achieving this goal, he intended to transform Louisiana into a symbol of post-Depression recovery, an advanced utopia where “none should be too poor and none should be too rich, and every comfort and convenience known to man would be provided.” ...

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4. Transformations

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pp. 67-102

Following the defeat of the Axis powers in 1945, the United States was left with a military surplus of arms and airplanes. Accompanying the fruits of victory was a home front with an abundance of vacant military airfields and bases throughout the country. ...

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5. Louisiana’s Hometown Airports

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pp. 103-120

In addition to the airports supporting commercial airline operations, an abundance of smaller general aviation airports thrive throughout the state. These airports have an unmistakable hometown feel, supported by regional municipalities and the passion of local aviators. ...

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pp. 121-122

The world celebrated its first century of flight in grandeur. Aviation, progressing from its beginnings with aircraft constructed of fabric, wood, and string, has been transformed by ever-developing technology, and has allowed humans to enter the skies of the new millennium in aircraft capable of transporting five hundred passengers nonstop more than three-quarters of the way around the globe. ...


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pp. 123-126

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pp. 127-130

The University of New Orleans Earl K. Long Library, Louisiana and Special Collections, is home to the Newman Collection, which documents early civilian aviation in the 1920s and 1930s, and the Shushan Collection, containing memorabilia from the Shushan family and documenting the airport’s incredible original splendor. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780807142110
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807142103

Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2012