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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reach for the Skies: Ballooning, Birdmen, and Blasting into Space. Entrepreneurial look at the history of conquering the skies!!, May 30, 2013
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. Moreover, space hotel is being made for those who want to spend some time watching the earth from the skies. Many other opportunities are opening and author gives us a look through all the history to the future. One more interesting fact I found out in this book was that the first airlines were established even before first airplanes were really made to fly. That's the vision! Now is the next step. All of that you will be able to read in Reach For The Skies.

So where is your ceiling? The Moon? The Mars? or maybe something much bigger..
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, Readable Ride into the Sky, June 14, 2011
This review is from: Reach for the Skies: Ballooning, Birdmen, and Blasting into Space (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. "Now we will have nothing less than the tracings of nature itself, reflected on the plate."

Now compare to Branson's Reach for the Skies (2011):

In 1858, the photographer Nadar (his real name was Gaspard Felix Tounachon) sailed 258 feet above the valley of Bièvre in France and captured a daguerreotype - an early photograph -- 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. "Now we will have nothing less than the tracings of nature itself, reflected on the plate."

Still, I really enjoyed reading a (mostly) fresh perspective on some of the more thrilling stories of ballooning and birdman, and look forward to watching Virgin Galactic blast off.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars five star rating, May 9, 2013
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This review is from: Reach for the Skies: Ballooning, Birdmen, and Blasting into Space (Hardcover)
Reach for the Skies: Ballooning, Birdmen, and Blasting into Space
Richard Branson

I received the book on time and it was in good condition.

It is a great book and full of good points.

A great addition to my personal library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here to inspire., January 11, 2013
By 
Rick L. (Pittsfield,Ma.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Reach for the Skies: Ballooning, Birdmen, and Blasting into Space (Hardcover)
Richard Branson is a very interesting man. He is not a know it all but a does it all. This mans life is amazing. He has such great interest in the world around him and it just so happens he likes what I like; Music and aviaton. This guy rocks in both. Super read. Thanks, Rick L.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hero of our time, September 6, 2012
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Perspective on Flight, July 18, 2011
By 
JPJ (IA United States) - See all my reviews
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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Reach for the Skies: Ballooning, Birdmen, and Blasting into Space
Reach for the Skies: Ballooning, Birdmen, and Blasting into Space by Richard Branson (Hardcover - April 28, 2011)
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