A history of helicopters and the
helicoptrians who built and flew them
By James R. Chiles
Now a Trade Paperback
Named by Library Journal as one of 2007's Top Science books
Named in Scientific American's 2007 holiday list
of fourteen "Books to Give - Books to Get"
Japanese and German Language Rights Sold
History has known few more inventive minds than those responsible for
the helicopter, mankind’s most versatile flying machine. From the
aerodynamic artistry of Leonardo da Vinci, through the futuristic tales
of Jules Verne, to the prototypes built by the horde of rotationally
obsessed enthusiasts who followed, here is the definitive story of a
Proposing that humans could hover in the air by
hanging a fuselage beneath large spinning blades requires a substantial
leap of the imagination–not to mention a pile of precision gadgetry.
This unique book bears witness to the challenge of turning the earliest
“rotating wing” aircraft into the helicopters that dominate news
The helicopter turned out to be much more agile
and capable than the early inventors expected but also took longer to
perfect than the airplane. Among the earliest of the helicopter
hopefuls were nineteenth-century American greeting card printer
Mortimer Nelson, French entrepreneurs Launoy and Bienvenu of
prerevolutionary Paris, and English country squire George Cayley,
builder of mankind’s first manned glider. The first controllable
helicopter flew in the 1920s. While it has yet to take its place
alongside the family car, as pioneer designer Igor Sikorsky hoped, the
helicopter plays a significant role in all our lives.
|Ad in Atlantic, December 2007
addition to transforming the ways of war, offering godlike views of
inaccessible spots, and providing some of our most-watched TV
moments–including the cloud of newscopters that trailed O. J. Simpson’s
Bronco–the helicopter has revolutionized rescues worldwide by proving
its ability to extract people from almost anywhere. In 2005 an
astounding 35,500 people were saved from the perils of Hurricane
Katrina–a feat impossible with any other machine.
The God Machine offers profiles of the many helicoptrians throughout history who
contributed to the development of this amazing machine, and pays
tribute to the selfless heroism of pilots and crews. A virtual flying
lesson and uplifting scientific adventure tale, The God Machine is more
than the history of an invention; it is a journey into the minds of
imaginative thinkers and a fascinating look at the ways they changed
To listen to the author's podcast produced by Bantam, click here.
The Bantam Books website for The God Machine is here.
A link to the Scientific American's 12-07 recommended book list is here.
Click here to check out the website for the author's first book, Inviting Disaster (HarperBusiness, 2001).
To hear the author's Inviting Disaster interview in August 2001 on National Public Radio's "Public Interest" show, click here to go to the NPR page.
Messages can be sent to the author through the God Machine website, but he may not be able to respond to all notes. To send an email, click here.
To order the book from Amazon, click the link below.