/ Published October 26, 2018
1001 Aviation Facts edited by Mike Machat. Specialty Press, 2016, 336 pp.
1001 Aviation Facts is an enjoyable, light read that will please any aviation enthusiast. Collectively written by eight aviation buffs, the book reflects the authors’ subject matter expertise in military and civilian flying, writing, aviation art, and aircraft modeling. The book is organized categorically into sections, aptly opening with “The Beginning.” It then explores military, experimental, commercial, and general aviation. Later, the book switches gears to focus on famed on-screen aircraft, noteworthy personalities in aviation, and concludes by presenting facts on aircraft models.
Readers of this book will immediately discover the honesty of 1001’s title. The book is, in fact, 1001 numbered facts about aviation, although they are frequently accentuated with enjoyable artistic renderings and illustrative historical photographs. For the most part, each fact serves as a stand-alone paragraph that can be enjoyed individually. At other times, the book strings together stories that benefit from a two- or three-paragraph attention span.
The 1001 presented facts are more or less ordered chronologically in each categorical chapter, although this reviewer noticed a few closely related and seemingly repetitive facts that were separated by a few pages. These occasions activated a mild obsessive compulsion to flip back and confirm the seeming discrepancy. The ensuing fact-checks revealed differences warranting separate facts but suggested a reorganization could have slightly smoothed 1001’s aviation odyssey. Because of these inconsistencies, the reader who chooses to read the book straight through may notice some awkward or nonexistent transitions between some of the related and sequential facts. Conversely, there are many instances when the transitions are pleasing and effortless. Taken as a whole, the fast-paced writing was engaging and well-edited.
Although enjoyable, 1001 Aviation Facts should not be considered a reference for academics. Before reading, this USAF pilot thought many of the presented facts were pulled from aviation’s thick tome of tall tales. While the facts are legitimized by authoritative authors who respectively lend their name to each fact, there are no footnotes or further reading sources mentioned. This is irritating like a fine dining experience might be—the facts are impressive, but they leave you wanting more.
Sections of the book will appeal differently to individual aviation enthusiasts, and any aviator-phile will find something to his or her liking. Without excessively spoiling the book, there are hundreds of “oh, wow” facts in the book. These include the meaning of Fox 4 (Dos Gringos did not cover this one in Military Pilot 101), titanium imports from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or USSR, ostensibly for use in “Italian pizza ovens,” the ultra-heavy million-pound plane, and many, many more. While seven of the eight chapters were engaging to this reviewer, the section on “Model Airplanes” almost seemed like an afterthought or a way to fill out the requisite number of facts. Nevertheless, the chapter will certainly appeal to collectors and model aficionados.
Ultimately, readers may conclude that 1001 was a less humorous and much more thought-out and aviation-focused version of an Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader. To its credit, 1001 Aviation Facts edges out the popular Bathroom Reader series as a worthwhile use of free reading time. Exploring its pages is a quick way to learn some amazing things about aviation’s history.
Maj Jack Nelson, USAF
401 Chennault Circle
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6010