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Reach for the Skies: Ballooning, Birdmen and Blasting into Space Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Virgin Atlantic Airlines founder and billionaire adventurer celebrates the exploits of airborne daredevils—his own prominently among them—in this lively history of aviation pioneers. Branson ranges from the Montgolfier brothers' 1783 invention of the hot-air balloon to today's nascent space tourism industry—tickets on his Virgin Galactic space liner will run ,000—highlighting men and women who risked their money and lives to advance aerial technology or just put on a good show. It's a colorful assemblage of engineers, test pilots, barnstormers, and fighter aces; there are asphyxiated high-altitude balloonists, ultra-light enthusiasts who fly lawn chairs, and the "birdman" who jumped from an airplane wearing only wooden wings and glided safely to the ground. Into the soaring, crashing, and burning, Branson inserts his own extreme-ballooning adventures—"I opened the hatch, climbed out on top of the capsule, and hacked away at the cable with my knife"—and much interesting lore of aero-space design. Like everything the author does, the book is, in part, an advertisement ("Over the years, pioneered comfortable reclining seats"). Still, Branson's enthusiasm for avant-garde flight and his firsthand understanding of its rigors make this a rousing—sometimes even elevating—read. Photos. (Apr. 28)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

SIR RICHARD BRANSON is a hugely successful international entrepreneur, adventurer and icon, and is chairman of the Virgin Group. His autobiography, Losing My Virginity, and his books on business, Screw It, Let's Do It and Business Stripped Bare, are all international bestsellers. He lives on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands and is married with two grown-up children. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Bolinda Audio; Unabridged edition (February 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1743150830
  • ISBN-13: 978-1743150832
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,631,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dave English VINE VOICE on June 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
There are a lot of aviation history books, and if you are really interested in the subject many of them are much better than this one. But so many of them are a little dry, and this has something unique - Branson's voice. "My version of the history of flight . . . Everything in this book is true enough--but it doesn't try to tell the whole story." It is an enjoyable, readable ride focusing as the subtitle states on balloons, birdmen and space. Like early barnstormers (or Wernher von Braun appearing on Disney TV shows) the story is part sales pitch. Can't afford $200,000 for a Virgin Galatic sub-orbital ride into space? You'd love a Virgin balloon flight! But the passion and insider viewpoint also drive a more personal, easy to read, ride around the sky.

UK readers may recognize the title as being the same as Paul Brickhill's biography of RAF fighter pilot hero Douglas Bader. It's not an accident. As a kid Branson played with Bader's false legs and learnt life lessons from the famous Spitfire pilot. If there had been more personal stories, more insights straight from Branson about flying with Steve Fossett or Burt Rutan I'd have given it five stars. As it is, the book is good just not great. While no coauthor is listed, my guess is that he had considerable editorial help putting the book together. It's nicely illustrated and fully indexed. However, sometimes the joins start to show. Consider these couple of sentences from Tom Vanderbilt's book Survival City (2010):

In 1858, Gaspard Felix Tounachon (known as "Nadar"), sailing 258 feet above the valley of Bièvre, captured a daguerreotype of the Earth below, blurred by the vibrations of the balloon. "We have had bird's-eye views seen by mind's eye imperfectly," he wrote.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Today is science fiction of yesterday and tomorrow is science fiction of today.

Hot air balloons, zeppelins, bird-men, first attempts to fly, parachutes, first planes, first airlines, spaceships, trips to the space, future of air travelling and much much more you will be able to know going through the pages of Reach For The Skies.

Reach For The Skies is a beautifully written history of the evolution of the men's attempts, fails and successes to conquer the skies. The author of the book is my favorite billionaire Sir Richard Branson. As he loves to fly himself, it is very interesting to see this history of the airship through his eyes. I really enjoyed finding out how all that what we now have in air traffic was developed. Branson presents the facts in a very nice way where you can see people's visions, attempts, persistence, fails, successes and finally where all that led to.

Not much time have passed since first attempts to fly were made. It's only a little more than two hundred years since first hot air balloon lifted from the ground and now we already have spaceships, which can fly to other planets. The same is with the travelling speed. It changed dramatically in just a couple of decades. Everything developed so fast, that it's hard to imagine where we are going to be in another one hundred years. Branson himself established the company called Virgin Galactic, which can take you to the space and everybody can become an astronaut. It's already possible!

It's also a huge opportunity for new businesses. It might be difficult for many of you to see it in a business way, but some people are already doing it. As I mentioned before one of them is Richard Branson.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JPJ on July 18, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Most "The History of Flight" books start at Kittyhawk, so right from the start Sir Richard Branson has an advantage. By starting in Paris in the 18th century, or earlier if you like, on the plains of South America, the reader gets to see what lead up to Kittyhawk.

But this book can't be more than a skimming of the highlights, considering it's covering over 200 years of history in almost as many pages. It's a great introduction into the history of aviation, and a great sales pitch for the Virgin brand. I didn't really mind that, because it should be obvious if it's by Sir Richard Branson, there will be a pitch for his latest projects. And, I think he makes a good argument for private space exploration (and continued government backed deep space exploration).

Anyone who would like to get a grasp on the current state of affairs in space (especially with the USA space shuttle missions ending) can find a concise explanation in the latter half of this book.

Like any good introductory text, I now find myself wanting to find out more about many of the topics quickly covered in this entertainingly written overview.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Victor Clough on September 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have been a fan of Branson since I was a teenager buying 45's (you have to be the right age to know what one of those are I guess) He seems to be all that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are but without the baggage that makes them un-likeable (Give Gates his due he has come good of late). Being British I guess I could claim some bias in my views as well. I have read all that Branson has published and this book was no exception An inspirational man and an inspirational book.
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