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Lovings Love: A Black American's Experiences in Aviation Hardcover – April 17, 1994
From Publishers Weekly
In his memoir Loving emerges as a person of extraordinary ability with an unwavering faith in a dream and an almost fanatic work ethic. He spent his adolescence in Depression-era Detroit where he learned to fly at a time when blacks were not even admitted to many airports. In 1944 he lost both legs in the crash of a glider he had designed. He then ran a flying school and designed and built the one-seater racing plane he nicknamed "Loving's Love," which is being restored for permanent display at the Experimental Aircraft Association's Air Education Museum in Wisconsin. Loving also studied aeronautical engineering at Wayne State and, on graduation, worked for 20 years as an aerospace research engineer. Although he relates his numerous experiences with racism, he nevertheless seems to have found both his personal life and his career thoroughly satisfying. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
An inspiring story of an African-American double amputee aviator whose triumphs will impress even the most cynical and jaded of readers. Neal Loving never met an obstacle that he couldn't overcome. In this memoir, he describes in astounding detail his journey through the racially discriminatory world of aviation in the 1930s, a crippling glider accident in 1944, and life as a successful aviation educator and engineer. Born in Detroit in 1916 to a middle-class African-American family, Loving early developed a fondess for aviation. Though discouraged from trying to break through the prevailing prejudices, he forged ahead and became one of several African-Americans aviators. In 1944, he lost both of his legs in a glider accident that laid him up in a hospital for several months. Simultaneously, his fiance left him and his mother died. On artificial legs, he rebuilt his life and took once again to the air. By the end of the story, he has successfully designed and built his own aircraft, the Love, opened an aviation school, married a woman from Jamaica, become an aeronautical engineer, and worked at the highest levels of aviation safety. Throughout, Loving limns the challenges of both de facto and de jure segregation and paints portraits of the many people who defied those obstacles to become successful pilots. Written in unadorned, straightforward prose, this memoir is a testament to human fortitude, courage, and joy. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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What caught my childish eye many decades ago was Mr. Loving's exquisite little aircraft: "Loving's Love." As a kid growing up in the 1950s, I was captivated by the shapely lines, the curvaceous inverted gull-wing and the amazing speed he got out of an 85hp engine. Originally designed to be a Goodyear Racer, Neal arrived on the racing scene just as the racing class was fading, nonetheless, he qualified it for racing even though by then he was a double amputee. He eventually turned "Loving's Love" into a cross country speedster, visiting much of the South Eastern United States, pre-Castro Cuba and Jamaica where he eventually found his bride - all while operating a busy flying service.
Well after his fortieth birthday, Neal went on to complete an aeronautical engineering degree -- eventually becoming among other things the USAF's expert on high altitude clear air turbulence. I've known about the little airplane for decades, now I know a little about the rest of the story and the indefatigable, passionate aviator who built it. Highly recommend.
The achievement is all the more impressive, when one bears in mind that Loving lost both his legs in a glider accident in 1944, at the age of 28, and was black. The chances to get work in aviation were in those days slim, if not non-existent, for a black double amputee, but determination and hard work paid off in the end. Loving retired from his work at the Flight Dynamics Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in 1982.
Loving tells about his childhood and youth, the Great Depression and the years of World War 2, about the hardship and the happiness through those times, the constant financial difficulties and the sleepless nights, and the pains of getting used to prosthetic legs. This is a tale of survival and success, fighting against odds that must have seemed impossible to beat.
In today's world, Loving's autobiography is indeed an inspiration. A story for the twenty-first century, from someone who had seen and survived the great challenges of the twentieth. And to top it all, it is beautifully written.
The real definition of passion in this little book's pages. Samurai level.