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Science, Technology, and Mathematics > History of Science and Technology > Transportation History

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Walking on Air Cover

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Walking on Air

The Aerial Adventures of Phoebe Omlie

Janann Sherman

Aviation pioneer Phoebe Fairgrave Omlie (1902-1975) was once one of the most famous women in America. In the 1930s, her words and photographs were splashed across the front pages of newspapers across the nation. The press labeled her "second only to Amelia Earhart among America's women pilots," and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt named her among the "eleven women whose achievements make it safe to say that the world is progressing."

Omlie began her career in the early 1920s when aviation was unregulated and open to those daring enough to take it on, male or female. She earned the first commercial pilot's license issued to a woman and became a successful air racer. During the New Deal, she became the first woman to hold an executive position in federal aeronautics.

In Walking on Air, author Janann Sherman presents a thorough and entertaining biography of Omlie. In 1920, the Des Moines, Iowa, native bought herself a Curtiss JN-4D airplane and began learning how to fly and perform stunts with her future husband, pilot Vernon Omlie. She danced the Charleston on the top wing, hung by her teeth below the plane, and performed parachute jumps in the Phoebe Fairgrave Flying Circus.

Using interviews, contemporary newspaper articles, archived radio transcripts, and other archival materials, Sherman creates a complex portrait of a daring aviator struggling for recognition in the early days of flight and a detailed examination of how American flying changed over the twentieth century.

We Are the Union Cover

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We Are the Union

Democratic Unionism and Dissent at Boeing

Dana L. Cloud

Dana L. Cloud engages union reformers at Boeing in Wichita and Seattle to reveal how ordinary workers attempted to take command of their futures by chipping away at the cozy partnership between union leadership and corporate management. _x000B__x000B_Focusing on the 1995 strike at Boeing, Cloud renders a multi-layered account of the battles between the company and the union and within the union led by Unionists for Democratic Change and two other dissident groups. She gives voice to the company's claims of the hardships of competitiveness the entrenched union leaders' calls for concessions in the name of job security, alongside the democratic union reformers' fight for a rank-and-file upsurge against both the company and the union leaders._x000B__x000B_Incorporating theory and methods from the fields of organizational communication as well as labor studies, Cloud methodically uncovers and analyzes the goals, strategies, and dilemmas of the dissidents who, while wanting to uphold the ideas and ideals of the union, took up the gauntlet to make it more responsive to workers and less conciliatory toward management, especially in times of economic stress or crisis.

The Wright Company Cover

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The Wright Company

From Invention to Industry

By Ed Roach

Fresh from successful flights before royalty in Europe, and soon after thrilling hundreds of thousands of people by flying around the Statue of Liberty, in the fall of 1909 Wilbur and Orville Wright decided the time was right to begin manufacturing their airplanes for sale. Backed by Wall Street tycoons, including August Belmont, Cornelius Vanderbilt III, and Andrew Freedman, the brothers formed the Wright Company. The Wright Company trained hundreds of early aviators at its flight schools, including Roy Brown, the Canadian pilot credited with shooting down Manfred von Richtofen — the “Red Baron”— during the First World War; and Hap Arnold, the commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces during the Second World War. Pilots with the company’s exhibition department thrilled crowds at events from Winnipeg to Boston, Corpus Christi to Colorado Springs. Cal Rodgers flew a Wright Company airplane in pursuit of the $50,000 Hearst Aviation Prize in 1911.

But all was not well in Dayton, a city that hummed with industry, producing cash registers, railroad cars, and many other products. The brothers found it hard to transition from running their own bicycle business to being corporate executives responsible for other people’s money. Their dogged pursuit of enforcement of their 1906 patent — especially against Glenn Curtiss and his company — helped hold back the development of the U.S. aviation industry. When Orville Wright sold the company in 1915, more than three years after his brother’s death, he was a comfortable man — but his company had built only 120 airplanes at its Dayton factory and Wright Company products were not in the U.S. arsenal as war continued in Europe.

Edward Roach provides a fascinating window into the legendary Wright Company, its place in Dayton, its management struggles, and its effects on early U.S. aviation.

Young Henry Ford Cover

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Young Henry Ford

A Picture History of the First Forty Years

by Sidney Olson

Young Henry Ford is a visual and textual presentation of the first forty years of Henry Ford—an American farm boy who became one of the greatest manufacturers of modern times and profoundly impacted the habits of American life. In Young Henry Ford, Sidney Olson dispels some of the myths attached to this automobile legend, going beyond the Henry Ford of mass production and the five-dollar day, and offers a more intimate understanding of Henry Ford and the time he lived in. Through hundreds of restored photographs, including some of Ford's own taken with his first camera, Young Henry Ford revisits an America now gone—of long days on the farm, travel by horse and buggy, and one-room schoolhouses. Some of the rare illustrations include the first picture of Henry Ford, photos from Edsel's childhood, snapshots of the interior and exterior of the Ford homestead, Clara and Henry's wedding invitation, and photos of the early stages of the first automobile.

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