All of us whose interest in aviation started in the 1950s will find 'Empire of the Clouds' (Faber & Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-24794-3, rrp 20) by James Hamilton-Paterson completely absorbing.

He chronicles the fortunes of Britain's then great aircraft industry from its glory days in the '50s to its decline and fall through misguided Government policies and inept management.

He celebrates the great aircraft and personalities of the period, and as it says on the dust jacket, the book reminds us what it was like "to be alive in that marvellous post-war decade when innovative new British aircraft made their debut several times a year and pilots were the rock stars of the age", and tells us how Britain managed "to lose the plot so completely."

Book Reviews

David Hassard has discovered that a book by Sydney Camm first published in 1919 when he was 26, has been reprinted in facsimile by BiblioBazaar, a US specialist publisher.

'Aeroplane Construction: A Handbook on the Various Methods and Details of Construction' is not an exciting read but it is full of interest. It is not only a record of the best practice in wooden aeroplane construction at the time but it also demonstrates Camm's fastidious approach and his great attention to the details of design. It also shows him to be a master of the English language, his descriptions of complexities being very clear.

This 140 page gem can be obtained from www.amazon.co.uk for 10.99.