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Aviation history - the interesting bits?

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Aviation history - the interesting bits?

Old 7th Jul 2018, 19:57
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Aviation history - the interesting bits?

I'm looking into writing an informal (with humour) history of aviation - possibly for publication on Kindle, but mainly as an intellectual challenge. The problem is, which is the most interesting part? Military is great but fewer people are interested in that (i.e Joe Bloggs sitting in an airport waiting for his flight) and it's been done so many times before.

The history of commercial aviation is, imo, more interesting - so many events, accidents and designs have shaped it and it has affected millions of peoples lives for the better.

Private aviation, while interesting is a bit esoteric and would probably be less interesting.

As we all know, the history of aviation is interlinked - military innovation creates commercial success. I could write for years about aviation and still find it fascinating, but an enormous book with every permutation would be just dull.

Another idea would be to write about the accidents and flaws that influenced aircraft design and operation - the Tenerife 747 v 747 accident, for example, or the Gimli Glider incident, or any number of others.

The problem with aviation is that it's all interesting to me!

Opinions?
ppgnewbie is offline  
Old 8th Jul 2018, 06:59
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I'd say you need to determine your target market:

1. Aviation enthusiasts: you'll need to produce something new and original. Interviews with participants / weeks in the archives / field-work.
2. History enthusiasts: you might get away with cribbing from existing sources but you'll need to tie it to specific events or localities
3. General public: titillation, emotion, human aspects. Aviation is only a backdrop for the story.

Sounds like you're aiming for #3. But frankly: why? What are you going to bring to the table that hasn't been done before?

It might be better to start with a series of magazine or newspaper articles. My local paper is always interested in short articles with local interest, such as about the airfield or the former aircraft factories which can be written with audiences #2 and #3 in mind. Not that they pay for them, though... Or a presentation at a local history society.
El Bunto is offline  
Old 9th Jul 2018, 14:08
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Originally Posted by El Bunto View Post
I'd say you need to determine your target market:

1. Aviation enthusiasts: you'll need to produce something new and original. Interviews with participants / weeks in the archives / field-work.
2. History enthusiasts: you might get away with cribbing from existing sources but you'll need to tie it to specific events or localities
3. General public: titillation, emotion, human aspects. Aviation is only a backdrop for the story.

Sounds like you're aiming for #3. But frankly: why? What are you going to bring to the table that hasn't been done before?

It might be better to start with a series of magazine or newspaper articles. My local paper is always interested in short articles with local interest, such as about the airfield or the former aircraft factories which can be written with audiences #2 and #3 in mind. Not that they pay for them, though... Or a presentation at a local history society.
Thanks for your response, you make very good points. Regarding point 1, I have a young family and very limited time and resources, so interviews are out, as for point 2, I live in Dublin, and frankly there isn't much local interest in aviation - airfields are few and far between, and local interest is practically zero. There have been very few aircraft built in the Republic of Ireland (as opposed to NI, which has a long and rich history of aviation).

So practically speaking I'm left with the third option, the human aspects. Why? Because the old aphorism, "write what you know" is still true today. People trust commercial aviation but they might not understand how much blood, sweat, tears and money has gone into making it a non-event, even regarding an engine or pressurisation failure. My goal is to make people more aware of how aviation has changed the world for the better and yes, the human aspect of that struggle. To make it more person. I will be including personal interviews (when I can get them) to make things easier to understand.

Looking back, I've answered my own question! Thanks for generating more ideas.
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Old 10th Jul 2018, 11:49
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Originally Posted by ppgnewbie View Post
Another idea would be to write about the accidents and flaws that influenced aircraft design and operation - the Tenerife 747 v 747 accident, for example, or the Gimli Glider incident, or any number of others.

Opinions?
I would say that if you're interested in the airport bookshop market, lay off the crashes (I can now get on an aeroplane without a struggle, but that has not always been the case, and I'm not unique).
How about the interiors of passenger aircraft? It's what matters most to most travellers, and is little covered in the standard histories. Attention catching in things like "OMG look at that luggage racks like on steam trains," and humour re lavatories. Window size, noise levels. Stretch to inflight catering. FAs as nurses, FAs as glamour, FAs as "Coffee, tea ...", FAs as salespeople, FAs as disciplinarians. Mile High Club. Applauding safe landings (and those places where that might even be appropriate behaviour). The Middle Eastern airlines with mews for the hawks being taken on the flight. Aeroflot interiors of the 1960s.

Just a thought.
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Old 13th Jul 2018, 16:13
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The Middle Eastern airlines with mews for the hawks being taken on the flight
Reminds me of the story I heard about a former British Airways air hostess welcoming a arrogant Arab sheikh on board his corporate jet. He carried his pet falcon on his wrist. The hostie offered the sheikh refreshments as the aircraft began to taxi.
He brushed off her offer with a disdainful wave of his hand. Undeterred, she smiled sweetly and looking at the falcon chained to his wrist said "What a cute little budgerigar - what is its name?" The hostie didn't last long in the job.
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Old 13th Jul 2018, 20:40
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Just a thought, but have you looked at Walter J. Boyne's fiction titles? I haven't read them all, but he's taken familiar and some less familiar bits of aviation history and has woven fictional tales around them. I'm not saying that you should copy that approach, but it might help as a bit of inspiration or just to see what's possible. By mixing fiction and history, you might be able to tick more than one box, as well as giving yourself some more room to manoeuvre.
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Old 13th Jul 2018, 22:31
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There is a rich lode of Australian anecdotes, strong on the vernacular, pertaining largely to who said what to whom, as in exchanges heard on frequency (or off it, as the case may have been). Or the odd PA that spoke of a strong individualism now gone west in these days of "careful what you say".

e.g. Laconic old DC-3 skipper giving PA on the TAA Channel Services run in outback Queensland - "We'll be putting into Charleville shortly. Out the window to our right is Blackall. But out to the left you'll see F+++ All ."

A hostie on one of those flights, a very turbulent one, later retrieved from an old 44 behind a hangar that was for rubbish, a passenger's missing dentures. He had failed to retrieve them himself from the sick-bag into which he lost his breakfast.

Last edited by Fantome; 13th Jul 2018 at 22:41.
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Old 1st Aug 2018, 22:49
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Undeterred, she smiled sweetly and looking at the falcon chained to his wrist said "What a cute little budgerigar - what is its name?" The hostie didn't last long in the job.
There was an Australian FA flying for the Luxembourg airline. An orthodox Jew was boarding one morning. He mistook her for an Austrian. He started a rant about the holocaust. "Look at this", he said, displaying the number tatooed on his arm."You did this to us.". She quietly replied "No sir. No one I know had anything to do with this horror story." He persisted. Whereupon she said "If you would kindly find your seat down there to your right, as soon as we are in the air I will fix you something to eat. You look so cross and peckish. Do you eat ham, by any chance? A real Australian is always ready to dish up what the customer needs".

Come on JL. You must have a few more up that voluminous sleeve of yours.
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