"In this beautifully written and thoroughly researched biography of John J. Montgomery, Harwood and Fogel not only debunk many of the myths surrounding Montgomery and the Wright Brothers but also provide a superb history of pioneer aviation in the West."
"In this fascinating and well-researched work, [the] authors take on a significant challenge: revising the traditional narrative of U.S. aviation history and shifting its geographical origins.....Well-written and containing many beautiful sketches, as well as previously unpublished photographs and diagrams, Quest for Flight should be read by anyone interested in the development of aviation in the United States in particular, and in California history in general." Richard Byers, University of North Georgia, 2013.QUEST FOR FLIGHT re-considers the history of American aviation and provides the story a scientist whose research into the laws of flight resulted in inventions of the basic methods of aircraft control and stability. His pursuit resulted in glider designs and resulted in controlled flights from Northern California that reached high altitudes and demonstrated the scientific accuracy of his designs - yet have received relatively little mention until now. QUEST FOR FLIGHT should be in any aviation history collection. (California Book Watch)Re-examining the history of aviation in America, Fogel and Harwood detail the accomplishments of John J. Montgomery and his role as an aeronautical pioneer. This comprehensive biography exposes many of the fabrications surrounding Montgomery and the Wright Brothers and shifts the attention of aviation history from the East to the West, celebrating California's often over-looked achievements and contributions to air flight. Thoroughly researched and full of extensive documentation, this is an engaging read for aviation enthusiasts and historians. (Book News, Inc., Portland, OR)Harwood (engineering geologist; distant relative of Montgomery) and Fogel (CEO, Natural Selection; Wind and Wings, 2000) have written an interesting, well-researched biography of John Montgomery (1858-1911), clearly explaining his role in aviation history..... A useful resource for people interested in the early history of aviation and those interested in the history of California. Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduate and general library collections. Alvin M. Strauss Ph.D, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Vanderbilt University for CHOICE Magazine (American Library Association)
-- Gary F. Kurutz, Principal Librarian, Special Collections, California State Library
"Quest for Flight is the most refreshing thesis on the origins of flight associated with John J. Montgomery since the Columbia Pictures movie Gallant Journey in 1946. Craig S. Harwood and Gary B. Fogel, recognized experts in aviation history, have shown through their extraordinary research and detailed documentation that Montgomery refined his theories of flight long before the Wright Brothers. Readers of Quest for Flight will discover that John J. Montgomery is the true 'Father of the Aeroplane' and the first to fly--in California rather than the East. Quest for Flight acknowledges the efforts of many California pioneers, in addition to Montgomery, who experimented with flying machines in these early years of human flight. This important book will change society’s traditional views of American aviation history toward a more informed and objective version of 'the impossible art' of aerial navigation."—Milford Wayne Donaldson, State Historic Preservation Officer, Office of Historic Preservation, California Department of Parks and Recreation
"For nearly a century, with one exception, historians of aviation have only obliquely considered the origins of manned flight in the United States. No longer! Informed and vividly written, Quest for Flight revises the chronology of aviation in America decades prior to 1903 and, in terms of geography, locates its emergence on a far, far shore from Kitty Hawk." —Kevin Starr, author of the series, "Americans and the California Dream"
Harwood (a distant relative of John J. Montgomery) and Fogel (Wind and Wings: The History of Soaring in San Diego) effectively trace their subject's determined efforts in pioneering aerial navigation. Beginning with Montgomery's initial 1883 flights near San Diego, they chronicle his work through a series of ever-improved glider designs. These tests culminated in 1905 with successful controlled flights in northern California employing tandem-wing craft released from hot-air balloons. The authors also offer a fine exploration of Montgomery's crowded personal life and his interaction with air-minded peers; his nonaeronautical scientific projects; his continuing lack of sufficient research funds; and his inclination to protect his intellectual property with legal challenges; among other topics. Montgomery perished in a crash on October 31, 1911, at the age of 51. An epilog includes an account of his heirs' unsuccessful patent-infringement lawsuits against the Wright-Martin Corporation and the federal government. In 1946 Orville Wright supporters, according to Harwood and Fogel, engaged in a vindictive letter-writing campaign to stop production of a motion picture featuring the life of Montgomery; their efforts failed and Gallant Journey was produced.
VERDICT A solidly researched biography of a little-known turn-of-the century aerodynamicist and flyer compellingly framed against the broader tapestry of Western science and aviation. Highly recommended.—— John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland (for Library Journal)
“In this fascinating and well-researched work, authors Craig Harwood and Gary Fogel take on a significant challenge: revising the traditional narrative of U.S. aviation history and shifting its geographical origins from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to the Otay Mountains of Southern California. As their research indicates, the ranks of the founding fathers of U.S. aviation should include a prominent place for their work's subject, California scientist John J. Montgomery, whose applied experiments with gliders during the 1880s and '90s, based on his observations of birds, stake a powerful claim for his inclusion alongside more famous early aviation pioneers like Glenn Curtiss and the Wright brothers. Well-written and containing many beautiful sketches, as well as previously unpublished photographs and diagrams, Quest for Flight should be read by anyone interested in the development of aviation in the United States in particular, and in California history in general. —Technology and Culture
“Montgomery’s pioneering work on gliders certainly was state-of-the-art, especially in the 1880s. The authors make a good argument for recognizing Montgomery as one of those who helped set the stage for the invention of powered, heavier than air flight and that California was an early location for some advanced aviation research.”—Western Historical Quarterly
Our purpose in writing this book was 1) to define John J. Montgomery in history, and 2) redirect the focus of traditional American aviation historical narratives (geographically speaking) from the east to the west to show that California based men and women made pioneering contributions in the aerial fields (aeroplanes, ballooning and airships) around the turn of the nineteenth century. Quest For Flight sheds light on, and celebrates the story of a lone inventor who accomplished the seemingly impossible and shared it with the public thereby inspiring a generation of Americans to take to the skies. Another intriguing aspect of the narrative of Quest For Flight is how it draws out of obscurity the role that women played in this visionary field of aeronautics and the resulting impact it had on societal attitudes toward women engaged in a male dominated and high risk field.
Quest For Flight represents a unique aspect of the history of the American West and a revisionist history of American aviation.