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Slide Rule Paperback – January 1, 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
However, the story ends with his resignantion from Airspeed (his company) as the clouds of World War 2 are gathering. Shute Norway's later life seems to have been equally adventurous and I would dearly loved to have been able to read of his wartime experiences and his solo flight to Australia in the late 1940's.
Nevertheless, this is a well written and smooth reading work which is as well crafted and entertaining as any of his novels.
How he did that and the types of issues he faced are fascinating. His thoughts on why he choose possibly inflated figures for some of his company's assets and risked going to jail as a way to obtain financing and prevent the lay off of 500 people during the depression are very memorable.
A great read.
Nevil Shute Norway (1899-1960) is best known to me as Nevil Shute, the author of novels including: `No Highway'; `A Town Like Alice'; and `On the Beach'. He wrote 24 novels -many of which I've yet to read - as well as this autobiography. But there's another side to Nevil Shute Norway: he was involved in the early years of British aviation, including the competition to build a commercial airship between 1924 and 1930.
Nevil Shute Norway was educated at Shrewsbury School and Baliol College, Oxford. After a brief period at the Royal Military Academy, he worked for the De Havilland Company from 1920 to 1924. His work in the design and drafting of aircraft led to his being appointed to the Airship Guarantee Company where he rose to be the Chief of Engineering. During this period, there was a competition to build an airship which could be used for regular commercial traffic across the Atlantic.
`It was generally agreed in 1924 that the aeroplane would never be a very suitable vehicle for carrying passengers across the oceans, and that airships would operate all the long distance routes of the future.'
A competition was established, between Vickers Limited (which then established the Aircraft Guarantee Company (AGC) as a subsidiary wholly responsible for the airship construction) and the Air Ministry. Nevil Shute was on the AGC team. The government airship was the R101; the AGC airship was the R100. R100 successfully completed a return trip to Canada in July/August 1930. On the 4th of October 1930, R101 en route to India, crashed killing 48 people. Nevil Shute blames bureaucrats and bad engineers for a series of events which led to the crash.Read more ›
After that, he helped found the Airspeed airplane company. His tales of keeping the start-up afloat are reminiscent of many of the dot-coms during recent years.
Shute writes very smoothly, and the book has the feel of a long conversation. If there's a flaw, it's that he doesn't talk much about the other people he met. It would be nice, for example, to see a few sentences on Barnes Wallis, designer of the R.100, the Lancaster bomber, and the dam busting bombs used in WW2.
That said, there's plenty to read here and this is one of those books you can't put down once you start.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I thoroughly enjoyed this autobiography and commend it enthusiastically to anyone interested in Nevil Shute Norway, the man, and the early aviation industry in England.Published 4 months ago by Michael Evans-layng
Excellent autobigraphy of an engineer involved in the golden era of aviation, aside being a talented novelist.Published 5 months ago by Gacon Jean-yves
This is an autobiography of the years Shute (in his "tech world" real name Norwell) spent designing, building, and selling aircraft. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Paul A. Martin
He writes well with insight. One thing he missed was why the economy was bad in England. War kills men, therefore the economy will always be bad after a war such as WWI. Simple. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Nevada Bob
This book is for aviation history buffs who appreciate first hand accounts written by those who experienced them. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Stephen C.
A great read.I literally could not put it down.A very interesting character who worked on one of the twentieth centuries most unusual projects. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Stephen K.
The history of British dirigibles rendered as an entertaining and fascinating tale, with enough intrigue to satisfy the drama hounds, and enough technical interest to keep the... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Paul d'Orleans
An engineer's view of early commercial flight, with a cautionary tale of why private enterprise succeeds better than government sponsorship. The competition between the R. Read morePublished 20 months ago by CINDY TOBIAS