Rocket Boys

David Baker

Rocket Boys
Grub Street Publishing
United Kingdom
1 December 2024

Rocket Boys

David Baker

This is a tale of the generation of test pilots flying experimental aircraft powered by rocket motors during the period from 1945 to the mid-1970s. It is not a technical description of the aircraft they flew but the narrative of the men who built the machines and the pilots who took to the air to achieve unprecedented speeds and altitudes unequalled to the present. It is a human story, but one carved out of the evolving post-war world, coming to terms with a new tension between global superpowers and one in which technological progress was arguably the greatest it has been since 1945. The book integrates the story of post-war US industry, the competitive drive to survive between plane-makers made rich by war production, challenged by the changed times of demobilisation and peace. Into the mix come fighter pilots and company men eager to sustain their craft and take on new challenges, alongside an emerging generation of post-war graduates straight from engineering or flight school, eager to make their mark. With a focus on those who achieved extraordinary things like Major 'Chuck' Yeager, Scott Crossfield and Joe Walker, there is also inclusion of those outside of the US's endeavours including how Eric 'Winkle' Brown became the only non-German to fly the rocket-powered Me 163 and the test-flying of John Booth and Peter Lamb. Rocket Boys is a record of the glorious years when nothing seemed impossible and which produced a group that propelled aviation into the stratosphere with devil-may-care attitudes and personal fortitude, with death and disaster stalking the very best.

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