Earle Ovington was an American aeronautical engineer, aviator,
and inventor, who also served as a lab assistant to Thomas Edison.
Best known as an accomplished and pioneering exhibition pilot,
Ovington first learned to fly in France in 1906; in 1911 he flew
the first official airmail flight in the United States in a Bleriot
XI. To put those dates in perspective, the Wright Brothers made
their initial 12-second mechanical human flight on December 17,
1903 and developed flying machines into practical aircraft during
the years 1905 to 1907. So Ovington's piloting days put him at the
cutting edge of human flight.
From a twenty-first-century perspective, carrying mail, making
long flights, or even doing stunt exhibitions may not suggest high
adventure and daring, but when Ovington flew in the early days of
mechanical flight, even ordinary outings were very risky. As his
wife Adelaide explains, planes of the time were held together and
guided not by cables but by very thin wires. If the wrong wire
broke, it meant certain death. Despite these risks, Ovington soared
with a charismatic fearlessness, as hinted at by the lucky 13 he
painted on his plane's wing.
As good fortune would have it, Adelaide proves as charming as
Earle was daring. In "An Aviator's Wife," Adelaide captures the
flavor of the times, paints a vivid portrait of her marriage, and
provides a lively and entertaining account of Earle's adventures.
"An Aviator's Wife" is a must-read for anyone captivated by
real-life stories from the golden era of early aviation.
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