American Eagles Second Edition

The cover of American Eagles Second Edition.

The following overview was written by Executive Editor Jay Smith. American Eagles Second Edition was released today, May 7, 2024. Jay received a copy of the book prior to its release date and wrote a full review of the text, which will also be present in the July 2024 “Worth a Closer Look” portion of Model Aviation magazine.

I first learned about this book when I had lunch with Dan Patterson, the book’s photographer, after Sal Calvagna donated his Sikorsky Ilya Muromets to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Dan had shared with me that he was given full access to photograph any of the aircraft and artifacts at the museum for American Eagles Second Edition. He kindly agreed to provide a review copy as soon as the book was available.

This is the second edition of the book. The first edition was published in 1997. The new edition coincides with the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force and the 100th anniversary of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

This large, hardcover, coffee table book spans 336 pages and includes more than 460 color photos and 150 archival photos and illustrations. As you might imagine, the museum has expanded greatly since the first book was written in 1997, and includes the Memphis Belle B-17 featured on the cover.

The book begins with a forward from Col. Eileen Collins, a NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle Commander. The book also includes the forward from the first edition, penned by Gen. Robin Olds who flew in World War II and in Vietnam.

Introductions are provided by Clinton Terry and Dan. Royal Air Force Air Vice-Marshall Ron Dick, who also contributed to the first book, is remembered, and much of his work can be found in this new edition.

The first chapter of the book covers the Wright brothers and the book continues up until 2023 when it was written. Within those chapters, conflicts such as World War I and WW II are given many pages, as are more modern conflicts. The book also covers the artifacts in the museum involving space exploration.

There is also a chapter on the history of the museum that explains why the museum is older than the U.S. Air Force. The museum began in 1923 in the corner of a hangar of the Aeronautical Engineering Center at McCook Field in Dayton. The U.S. Air Force wasn’t established as a separate branch of the military until 1947. It was previously known as the U.S. Army Air Corps.

It is easy to get lost in the imagery and the supporting text, given the size of the book. It will take some time to appreciate all of the excellent photography and well-written text. Although I enjoy everything that is aviation related, my primary aviation interest spans from the beginning of aviation through WW II and the book delivers! Page 184 is the first page of post-WW II coverage.

With the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force being the oldest and largest military aviation museum, according to its website, the author and photographers who contributed to the book had a lot of ground to cover and did so admirably.

Anyone who is interested in aviation, aviation museums, and specifically the U.S. Air Force and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, will find the book a nice resource. Even those who have been to the museum will see and learn about things housed there that aren’t on public display.

American Eagles Second Edition retails for $75.


Rowman & Littlefield

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