Share This Article

American Flying Boats and Amphibious Aircraft: An Illustrated History

by E.R. Johnson, McFarland, Jefferson, N.C., 2010, $49.95.

E.R. Johnson’s latest book reflects a modern and vastly improved version of the technique James Fahey pioneered in U.S. Army Aircraft 1908-1946. “Buddy” Johnson takes the same comprehensive approach as Fahey, but is able to devote more print and illustrations to the subject. This was an ambitious project, for it includes two broad categories of aircraft, both civil and military, from the first flying boat, the Curtiss Model E, right up to the 2010 Icon A-5. Each one has a narrative, an excellent three-view drawing, good photos and specifications. As a result, this is a reference book that’s difficult to put down.

Johnson provides a historical overview for each of his three main sections, divided chronologically. Three appendixes round out the work. The first of these is tantalizing, for it gives glimpses, but necessarily less info, on lesser-known flying boats and amphibians. The second appendix covers flying boat and amphibian design concepts, ranging from the spectacularly ugly Norman Bel Geddes monstrosity to the handsome Edo Arctic Fighter. The third appendix consists of no less than three glossaries.

This book is jam-packed with information. In less sure hands than Johnson’s, the result might have been pedestrian. But this is a reference you’ll want to return to often for insight into a popular but now almost bygone type.


Originally published in the November 2010 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.