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Queen of the Skies: The Lockheed Constellation Hardcover – January 1, 2010
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About the Author
Claude Luisada is a life-long aviation enthusiast, a past student pilot, a long-time member of the Civil Air Patrol and a freelance contributor to the first aerospace encyclopedia ever published. He currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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But you'd be hard-pressed to draw any such conclusions from the meandering mish-mash that is "Queen of the Skies." It's really too bad, because the full story of the Constellation deserves to be told. Snippets of its history crop up in any book about Howard Hughes and Trans World Airlines (TWA), but, as author Luisada correctly notes, no one has yet told the entire history of the Connie. In my opinion, that is still the case, despite his book that purports to do so. While "Queen of the Skies" is broad in scope--perhaps too broad--and heavy with detail, it is far from being a readable, coherent and comprehensive history of this magnificent aircraft.
The main problems with the book are that it is poorly organized, difficult to follow and not very well written. The Constellation was made in at least 17 different civilian and military versions, each with a different model number. An organized way of presenting information on the various models, such as their characteristics, development timeline, performance, etc., is vital if the reader is to have a chance of understanding them. "Queen of the Skies" does not have such organization. The author annoyingly jumps back and forth between military and civilian versions, back and forth among model numbers, and back and forth in time, with no apparent rhyme, reason or underlying structure. The story of the Constellation is a complicated one. "Queen of the Skies" piles on additional complication to the point that the story is virtually incomprehensible.
On the positive side, there are some excellent photographs in the book. The photos are sharp, clear, interesting, well-captioned and relevant (although it is jarring to see photos of a quintessential "Lockheed" aircraft credited to "Lockheed Martin"--such are the consequences of aerospace industry consolidation). Luisada's descriptions of the technical characteristics of the Constellation, and the chapter that covers accidents and incidents, are quite well done, and head-and-shoulders above the rest of the book.
On balance, "Queen of the Skies" does fill a niche in the literature of commercial aviation. It consolidates information on an innovative and significant aircraft, and contains some material that may be new to print. If you are especially interested in learning something about Lockheed's beautiful triple-tailed airliner, then the book deserves a place on your bookshelf. But if you're looking for the comprehensive Constellation story in an enjoyable, readable form, you'll have to wait. "Queen of the Skies" is not it.
Do not hesitate to buy it. By the way, it comes with a CD inside the back cover, which includes a "handbook" with tons of additional data, in PDF