Images of Aviation Series

 Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, S.C., $21.99

 This roundup covers several new books by a company busy creating an invaluable niche aviation book market. Arcadia Publishing accomplishes this via subjects no major book publisher would typically bother to cover. Even though the potential market is small, these books are vitally important, for they establish histories that would otherwise be lost forever.

Jeff Ruetsche, Arcadia’s publisher, created this series under the title “Images of Aviation.” He uses relatively small print runs plus local advertising to sell enough books over time to achieve a profit, choosing authors who want to tell an important local story primarily with period photos complemented by insightful captions. The net result is a happy combination: The publisher makes enough money to continue the process, and authors have the pride of a published book, book signings and recognition of their knowledge of local history. Here are some of Arcadia’s recent offerings:

Akron Aviation, by James I. Pryor II, is a fascinating survey of a very complex history that extends from before the Wright brothers through the fascinating lighter-than-air period to huge factory production of complete Vought Corsairs and parts for many other aircraft—not to mention the famous naval air station itself.

Kansas City B-25 Factory, by John Fredrickson and John Roper, is certainly a surprise title, given that books usually celebrate Kansas in terms of Stearmans and Boeings from Wichita. But the authors have done their homework, providing a rich pictorial history of hard-working Kansans who produced 6,608 aircraft within an amazingly short period.

Maureen Smith Keillor and Richard P. Keillor include more than 200 crisp images in Naval Air Station Pensacola, chronicling the Florida panhandle city’s history from its days as a Spanish fort to its establishment as a flight training station 100 years ago, and extending to the present.

Paine Field, by Steve K. Bertrand, describes the history of an airfield that started as a Works Progress Administration project in 1930 and served as a military base for years, then provided financial security and a future for Seattle-area residents when Boeing acquired it as a factory site—the biggest in the world—for its new 747 airliner.

Beale Air Force Base During the Cold War, by James B. Quest, will stir the hearts of all former Strategic Air Command personnel, particularly the thousands who passed through one of the most important—and often the most highly classified—bases of the time. It includes more than 200 nostalgic photographs, with great captions. For more on the Arcadia aviation series, visit arcadiapublishing.com/series/images-of-aviation to look over the broad selection of titles offered.

 

Originally published in the March 2015 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.