100 books like The Birth of British Aviation

By Helen Landau,

Here are 100 books that The Birth of British Aviation fans have personally recommended if you like The Birth of British Aviation. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Fate is the Hunter: A Pilot's Memoir

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Author Of Bird

From my list on pioneering aviation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for flying old aeroplanes led me to the pilots who flew them in history, and my particular fascination is with the interwar period and the ‘Golden Age of Aviation’, which saw the establishment of the early commercial air routes and the historic solo flights by pilots flying basic machines and pushing themselves and their aircraft to the very limits of endurance to prove that it could be done. I was absolutely mesmerised by the stories of their bravery and obsession. My recommended books all share the theme of pioneering aviation as this has been a consuming interest for much of my adult life, both in and out of the cockpit. 

Tracey's book list on pioneering aviation

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Why did Tracey love this book?

First published in 1961, this memoir may be the best book ever written about aviation by someone who was both a pilot and a terrific writer. 

I took the liberty of using this title as the heading for one of the chapters in my own book as a tribute to Gann. His visceral accounts of flying the early airliners in America during the 1930s in the burgeoning years of commercial aviation are literally heart-stopping. 

We take so much for granted in this modern age of airline flying but this wonderful book will forever change your perspective of the risks and challenges that went before.  

By Ernest K. Gann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fate is the Hunter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ernest K. Gann’s classic pilot's memoir is an up-close and thrilling account of the treacherous early days of commercial aviation. “Few writers have ever drawn readers so intimately into the shielded sanctum of the cockpit, and it is hear that Mr. Gann is truly the artist” (The New York Times Book Review).

“A splendid and many-faceted personal memoir that is not only one man’s story but the story, in essence, of all men who fly” (Chicago Tribune). In his inimitable style, Gann brings you right into the cockpit, recounting both the triumphs and terrors of pilots who flew when flying…


Book cover of Amy Johnson

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Author Of Bird

From my list on pioneering aviation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for flying old aeroplanes led me to the pilots who flew them in history, and my particular fascination is with the interwar period and the ‘Golden Age of Aviation’, which saw the establishment of the early commercial air routes and the historic solo flights by pilots flying basic machines and pushing themselves and their aircraft to the very limits of endurance to prove that it could be done. I was absolutely mesmerised by the stories of their bravery and obsession. My recommended books all share the theme of pioneering aviation as this has been a consuming interest for much of my adult life, both in and out of the cockpit. 

Tracey's book list on pioneering aviation

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Why did Tracey love this book?

Originally released in 1967, a new edition of this book was published by Daredevil in 2021. 

Amy Johnson’s story has great personal resonance for me and I was very honoured to write a preface for the book. With less than a hundred hours in her logbook, Amy set out to Australia to break the world record for the fastest time in 1930 and what would become one of the most outstanding solo achievements in history. 

My own flight to Australia in 2015/16 re-tracing Amy’s route was done in homage.  

By Constance Babington Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Amy Johnson as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amy Johnson became a household name after her solo flight to Australia in 1930 which thrust her, ill-prepared and exhausted, into the limelight and almost constant media attention for the rest of her short life. She was to die in mysterious circumstances in 1941 crashing into the sea off Herne Bay. Lauded at the time as 'Amy, wonderful Amy', her achievements have captivated us ever since.


Constance Babington Smith was given access to all of Amy Johnson's private papers by the Johnson family and asked to write a posthumous account of the life of this most enigmatic heroine. Babington Smith's…


Book cover of Lady Icarus: The Life of Irish Aviator Lady Mary Heath

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Author Of Bird

From my list on pioneering aviation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for flying old aeroplanes led me to the pilots who flew them in history, and my particular fascination is with the interwar period and the ‘Golden Age of Aviation’, which saw the establishment of the early commercial air routes and the historic solo flights by pilots flying basic machines and pushing themselves and their aircraft to the very limits of endurance to prove that it could be done. I was absolutely mesmerised by the stories of their bravery and obsession. My recommended books all share the theme of pioneering aviation as this has been a consuming interest for much of my adult life, both in and out of the cockpit. 

Tracey's book list on pioneering aviation

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Why did Tracey love this book?

This is about one of our most brilliant female aviators. 

Largely forgotten today, the Irish Lady Heath, one of our first female Olympians and the first woman in Britain to hold a commercial pilot’s licence, was also the first person to fly solo from Cape Town to England in 1928. 

Her flight was the inspiration for my first expedition up Africa in 2013, about which we made a documentary screened by the BBC, and this book is the moving story of Mary Heath’s exceptional but ultimately tragic life.

By Lindie Naughton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lady Icarus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Magnificent Women and Flying Machines: The First 200 Years of British Women in the Sky

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Author Of Bird

From my list on pioneering aviation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for flying old aeroplanes led me to the pilots who flew them in history, and my particular fascination is with the interwar period and the ‘Golden Age of Aviation’, which saw the establishment of the early commercial air routes and the historic solo flights by pilots flying basic machines and pushing themselves and their aircraft to the very limits of endurance to prove that it could be done. I was absolutely mesmerised by the stories of their bravery and obsession. My recommended books all share the theme of pioneering aviation as this has been a consuming interest for much of my adult life, both in and out of the cockpit. 

Tracey's book list on pioneering aviation

Tracey Curtis-Taylor Why did Tracey love this book?

This is a lively history of the first 200 years of British women in the sky. 

Given that women were largely blocked by a hostile male establishment from participating in commercial and military aviation for most of the 20th century, this is a riveting account of the unconventional women who defied gravity and everything else to get airborne. Marvellous stuff!

By Sally Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Magnificent Women and Flying Machines as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Just eighteen months after two Frenchmen made the world's first ever flight, a fearless British woman hopped into a flimsy balloon and flew across the London sky for nearly an hour. Since then, many other remarkable British women have decided to defy traditional society and follow their dreams to get into the sky. Magnificent Women and Flying Machines tells the stories of the pioneers who achieved real firsts in various forms of aviation: in ballooning, parachuting, gliding, airships and fixed-wing flight - right up to a trip to the International Space Station! Full of entertaining adventure mixed with a wealth…


Book cover of Fighter Heroes of WWI: The Extraordinary Story of the Pioneering Airmen of the Great War

Melvyn Fickling Author Of Farewell to the Glory Boys: A Battle of Arras Novel

From my list on the battles, corps and aftermath of WW1 for women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I had finished The Bluebird Trilogy, three novels that centred on the first half of the Second World War, and I heard echoes of the Great War ringing faintly in the egos of my older characters. I started to read more of the history and was drawn to the aerial maelstrom that befell the RFC over Arras in 1917. I was also interested in working with a larger cast of characters, many transients, and telling their stories over a short stretch of time. The result was Major Claypole and Jackdaw Squadron, Glory Boys every last one.

Melvyn's book list on the battles, corps and aftermath of WW1 for women

Melvyn Fickling Why did Melvyn love this book?

Barely a decade after The Wright brothers’ first tentative take-off, flying machines were thrown into the scorching crucible of war in Europe. The men who flew them were pioneers, members of what many saw as a military flying club. But the flying club soon developed into a bear-pit of mortal combat, fought behind synchronised machine guns without the solace of a parachute. Levine paints his pictures with the personal accounts and anecdotes of the pilots that fought these battles, seeking to understand the feelings and motivations of the young men who volunteered to risk all in the frightening new theatre of aerial warfare. These truths, are in many instances, stranger than fiction, forged, as they were, on the cutting edge of the new aviation technology.

By Joshua Levine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fighter Heroes of WWI as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first heroes of the air.

Rewriting the rules of military engagement and changing the course of modern history as a result, the pioneering airmen of the First World War took incredible risks to perform their vital contribution to the war effort.

Fighter Heroes of WWI is a narrative history that conveys the perils of early flight, the thrills of being airborne, and the horrors of war in the air at a time when pilots carried little defensive armament and no parachutes.

The men who joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1914 were the original heroes of flying, treading into…


Book cover of The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power

Leif Wenar Author Of Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World

From my list on why oil is a curse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Stanford professor who became fascinated with oil and everything it does to for us and to us. For years I traveled the world talking to the people who know petroleum: executives in the big oil companies, politicians and activists, militants and victims, spies and tribal chiefs. Blood Oil explains what I learned and how we can make our oil-cursed world better for all of us. 

Leif's book list on why oil is a curse

Leif Wenar Why did Leif love this book?

Most of us believe that the Big Oil has politicians in its pocket, and that oil drives America’s actions in the Middle East.

Yergin’s terrific history shows that there’s so much more: oil has fueled the growth of empires, it has decided the world wars, it has made and broken some of the world’s biggest fortunes. (You might also like the TV documentary made from the book, narrated by Donald Sutherland.)

By Daniel Yergin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Prize as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written by the author of "Shattered Peace" and "Energy Future", this book brings to life the tycoons, wildcatters, monopolists, regulators, presidents, generals and sheiks whose struggle for oil has shaken the world economy, dictated the outcome of wars, transformed the destiny of Britain and the world and profoundly changed all our lives. Beginning with the first oil well of the 1850s and continuing up to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, it is a story of greed, gumption nad ingenuity, all in pursuit of "the prize" - worldwide economic, military and political mastery through the control of oil. The book includes…


Book cover of No Man's Land: 1918 The Last Year of the Great War

Stephen L. Harris Author Of Duty, Honor, Privilege: New York City's Silk Stocking Regiment and the Breaking of the Hindenburg Line

From my list on World War I and America's role in it.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading my great uncle’s war letters home to Kansas City and seeing his artwork—he was a magazine illustrator in civilian life and then editor of the 27th Empire Division’s magazine, Gas Attack—I knew, as a writer, I had to put his story down on paper. What his National Guard regiment did, the 107th, simply blew me away. From writing about what the 107th endured in the Great War, I was carried away to tackle the all-black 369th Regiment, famously known as Harlem’s Hell Fighters. I then had to tell the story of New York City’s most famous regiment, the Fighting 69th. My trilogy of New York’s National Guard in the war is now done.

Stephen's book list on World War I and America's role in it

Stephen L. Harris Why did Stephen love this book?

Pulitzer-Prize winning author Toland, in a riveting style, gives us a detailed account of what it was like on the Western Front in 1918 for the British and French armies, their leaders and their soldiers, but more importantly for America, its crucial role and for its men, from President Wilson and General Pershing down to the mud-splattered private on the frontlines. He also delves into the Russia Revolution. When you finish this book, you get a full understanding of the war and what it was like during that last year.

By John Toland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Man's Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From freezing infantrymen huddled in bloodied trenches on the front lines to intricate political maneuvering and tense strategy sessions in European capitals, noted historian John Toland tells of the unforgettable final year of the First World War. As 1918 opened, the Allies and Central Powers remained locked in a desperate, bloody stalemate, despite the deaths of millions of soldiers over the previous three and a half years. The arrival of the Americans "over there" by the middle of the year turned the tide of war, resulting in an Allied victory in November. In these pages participants on both sides, from…


Book cover of Charlotte Sometimes

Carole McDonnell Author Of The Constant Tower

From my list on unplanned or obsessively-planned journeys.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a wife, mother, writer—and the mother of a disabled non-verbal thirty-three-year-old man. I'm also Black and a Christian, both of which can be problematic to many readers. I write fantasy and mainstream stories, Christian and non-Christian. Some fantasy readers have certain fears, stereotypes, and expectations of fantasy books written by minorities. Others have those same fears, stereotypes, and expectations of books written by Christian writers. I'm very good at accommodating my readers. For the most part, my readers never feel as if they’re being preached at or lectured. Some aren’t even aware that I'm Black or a Christian, even though my concernsimperialism, injustice, spirituality, ethnicity, disability, and feminismare throughout my stories.

Carole's book list on unplanned or obsessively-planned journeys

Carole McDonnell Why did Carole love this book?

I love time travel stories. Stories where protagonists swap lives with other people are so much about acculturation and “passing.” Dislocation, confusion, etc. aside, the main issue is to not be found out. In the story, Charlotte is not always herself. Sometimes she’s in a boarding school in the fifties and sometimes she’s back in time at the same boarding school in the First World War. So we’re dealing with a borrowed life here. The life that Charlotte sometimes borrows belongs to Clare. Charlotte has very little in common with Clare. And even less knowledge of how establishments like this worked back in the day. Some quick learning and imitative skills are needed if she is not to be caught. For instance, she has to deduce what others expect and require of her. But she also has to not lose herself in all this pretense. 

When I came to the…

By Penelope Farmer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Charlotte Sometimes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 11, 12, 13, and 14.

What is this book about?

It is Charlotte's first night at boarding school, and as she's settling down to sleep, she sees the corner of the new building from her window.

But when she wakes up, instead of the building there is a huge, dark cedar tree, and the girl in the next bed is not the girl who slept there last night.

Somehow, Charlotte has slipped back forty years to 1918 and has swapped places with a girl called Clare.

Charlotte and Clare swap places ever night until one day Charlotte becomes trapped in 1918 and must find a way to return to her…


Book cover of The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918

Ross McMullin Author Of Life So Full of Promise: further biographies of Australia's lost generation

From my list on WWI Australia in the battlefields and home front.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an experienced historian, biographer, and storyteller. I’ve written widely about Australian politics, social history, sport, and World War I. My biography of Australia’s most famous fighting general, Pompey Elliott, won multiple national awards, and I assembled his extraordinary letters and diaries in a separate book, Pompey Elliott at War: In His Own Words. Another biography, Will Dyson: Australia’s Radical Genius, about a remarkably versatile artist–writer who was Australia’s first official war artist, was shortlisted for the National Biography Award. My multi-biography Farewell, Dear People: Biographies of Australia’s Lost Generation won the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History, and I’ve written a sequel, Life So Full of Promise.

Ross' book list on WWI Australia in the battlefields and home front

Ross McMullin Why did Ross love this book?

Charles Bean’s epic volumes were pioneering, illuminating, thorough, deeply researched and far superior to equivalent official histories produced by other nations involved in the conflict.

Although Bean’s books were written long ago — between 1921 and 1942 — they are still the starting point for any credible project concerning itself with what the AIF did in battle. And he edited various volumes in the Official History series compiled by other writers as well, including a book about the home front during the war.

Bean was remarkable. His Official History, and the records and research materials underpinning it, have been crucial in so much of my work—not only my lost generation multi-biographies, and also my books on Pompey Elliott and Will Dyson, but many other research projects as well.

Book cover of Pat the Bunny

Dana Meachen Rau Author Of Sense of Play

From my list on children’s stories to engage all the senses.

Why am I passionate about this?

As children, my brother and I were constant playmates. He was an early riser and often woke me up so our day of play could begin as soon as possible. I have sight, and my brother is blind. Play for us was an all-senses experience. We felt the rumble of our bikes on the street, listened to the screech of the metal swing set, and guessed spices by their smell. We also devoured stories. We listened to audiobooks, he read to me in Braille, and I read to him. All of these experiences, and more, prepared me to be an author of numerous children’s books with sensory details to make stories come alive.

Dana's book list on children’s stories to engage all the senses

Dana Meachen Rau Why did Dana love this book?

Pat the Bunny is designed for the youngest children learning to read, yet I remember this book on our shelf throughout my whole childhood.

Each page is interactive as children are invited to pat the soft bunny, smell the flowers, touch Dad’s scratchy face, and more. Besides learning to read, children learn to notice sensory details in the world around them.

By Dorothy Kunhardt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pat the Bunny as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The timeless children's classic full of interactive fun—a perfect gift for new babies and first birthdays.
 
For generations, Pat the Bunny has been creating special first-time moments between parents and their children. One of the best-selling children’s books of all time, this classic touch-and-feel book offers babies a playful and engaging experience, all the while creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in World War 1, the Wright brothers, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about World War 1, the Wright brothers, and presidential biography.

World War 1 Explore 885 books about World War 1
The Wright Brothers Explore 7 books about the Wright brothers
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography