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Vagabonds of the Sky

by Bruce McAllister, Roundup Press, Boulder, Colo., $29.95.

This photographic history is a must-have for those interested in early flight. Page after page of outstanding photographs make for easy entertainment and the chance to absorb a wealth of knowledge. Lincoln Beachey, Mabel Cody, Evelyn “Sharpie” Sharp, Charlie Kulp and nine others are featured in Bruce McAllister’s volume. In addition, there is a chapter on Hollywood and its attempt to reproduce the war in the air that took place in World War I.

This book is the source of many little-known facts. Did you know that Lincoln Beachey flew under the Honeymoon Bridge at Niagara Falls in 1911? Did you know that Buffalo Bill Cody’s niece Mabel Cody organized and ran a flying circus in the 1920s? Have you ever heard of Evelyn Sharp, who began her flying career as a barnstormer in 1938 and went on to serve in World War II, ferrying aircraft, until she died in a Lockheed P-38 accident? How about Charlie Kulp, the “Flying Farmer”?

Thrilling pictures in both color and black and white provide a fascinating glimpse of early barnstorming. There’s Paul Mantz flying through a hangar at Bishop, Calif., in 1932. There’s a Blackfoot chief and medicine man blessing Clyde Ice before a trip in his Ford TriMotor. We even have two pictures of Will Rogers, one with Nick Lentine, who has a chapter in this history.

I recommend this book for anyone who would like to spend some time relaxing with a volume of eye-catching photography and easy-to-read narrative.


Originally published in the January 2006 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.