Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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p. viii

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Acknowledgments

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p. ix

Family, friends, and colleagues offered timely encouragement and useful suggestions as an intriguing array of serendipitous historical connections jelled into a readable narrative. The knowledge and generosity of the dedicated staff at the San Diego Aerospace Museum, particularly assistant archivist Alan Renga and librarian Pam Gay, guided...

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Introduction: An Entertainment Century

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pp. 3-19

In December, 1903, a motor-driven, heavier-than-air flying machine—built by Orville and Wilbur Wright and flown first by Orville—remained aloft for twelve seconds and traveled 120 feet. A handful of helpers observed the historic flight at Kill Devil Hills in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Most people ignored the achievement, even if they heard about it. In general, disbelief and an inexplicable lack of curiosity marked the debut of the delicate...

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Chapter 1. Reflections on Wonderlands

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pp. 21-74

The undulating mirrors elicited chuckles from curious gawkers, whose altered reflections flashed back at them. Bemused fairgoers in the Temple of Mirth at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition watched themselves grow fat and thin, short and tall—or disappear altogether—as they approached the mirrors, backed away, or moved from side to side. Every direction they turned, their reflection changed. People laughed...

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Chapter 2. Inventors and Entertainers: Aviation

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pp. 75-130

As the publicists promised and journalists reported, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition brought the world to St. Louis. From the palaces of technology to the Terrace of Nations to the Pike, fairgoers dipped into storehouses of history and artistry, of cultural diversity and mechanical achievements. The totality of the fair overwhelmed the crowds; the exhibits astounded and educated, titillated and provoked...

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Chapter 3. Inventors and Entertainers: Movies

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pp. 131-180

In less than a decade airplanes turned the ancient dream of human flight into entertainment. Fliers thrilled crowds with races and daring stunts, and air meets transformed thousands of curious observers into tourists. At the same time, motion pictures projected dreams onto a screen and turned ordinary people into movie stars (sometimes only in their...

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Chapter 4. Surmountable Contradictions

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pp. 181-220

The war, the movies, flying circuses, barnstormers, and racers—all fed the romantic aura that surrounded airplanes and pilots in the 1920s. At the same time, a dedicated phalanx of businesspeople, aviation enthusiasts, and public officials struggled to overcome images of airplanes falling from the sky and of pilots who stared death in the face every time they flew. To transform...

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Chapter 5. Lines in the Sky

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pp. 221-257

As fascination with flight passed from the mythical and fantastic to the mechanical, the more technically minded humans who had devised and mastered flying machines quickly turned to the domination of the air itself. To poets, the open and boundless blue sky still inspired thoughts of gods and the freedom of birds. Public officials and...

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Chapter 6. PAA and RKO: The Rio Connection

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pp. 259-301

Years before Pan American Airways lobbied on behalf of foreign airmail contracts or sent its first airmail plane to Havana in 1927, the motion picture industry had forged links to Latin America. In Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and other Spanish-speaking markets, “Hollywood” had come to signify North American movie stars, material...

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Chapter 7. Musical Fantasies, Political Realities

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pp. 303-342

The title of RKO-Radio Pictures’ 1933 box office hit, as an exhibitor might have displayed it on the theater marquee, produced the immediately recognizable presidential initials FDR. More by coincidence than contrivance, the acrostic expresses the intersection of popular culture and public policy that turned Flying Down to Rio into an intriguing device...

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Epilogue: Movies, Airplanes, and Touristic Urges

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pp. 343-355

Aviation, mass tourism, and the movies, three economically, socially, and culturally significant industries, evolved independently, each surrounded by its own romantic aura tinged with glamour, excitement, and risk. By 1930, each had achieved importance in international commerce. As three elements of an increasingly complex and interdependent world, they influenced the way in which people used...

Notes

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pp. 357-368

Bibliography

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pp. 369-373

Index

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pp. 375-386