Air & Space Magazine:
“The authors introduce a succession of fascinating characters who flew the mail. Mavericks of the Sky is a should-read story of forgotten flying pioneers who earned their keep in the hardest way.”
“This is an enthralling sage told in a smooth and agile style.”
Ventura County Star:
“The exciting, and deadly, story of the first three years of air mail is told in Mavericks of the Sky.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune:
“Mavericks of the Sky frequently provides insights into the personalities involved - and there is a very rich roster of these to examine.”
Asbury Park Press:
“In Mavericks of the Sky, Barry Rosenberg and Catherine Macaulay make a meaningful contribution to aviation history with a chronicle of the initial steps taken to create an airmail delivery service and of the ensuing problems.”
The (Nashville) Tennessean:
“Enthralling Mavericks tells how U.S. Air Mail first took flight.”
“A surprisingly exciting history.”
Air & Space Power Journal:
“A lively and entertaining book, Mavericks of the Sky begins in 1918 when the airplane was a teenager and flight remained almost a magical event. Rosenberg and Macaulay fill their account with stories of pilots who possessed more courage than common sense. The authors have written a good yarn about a little-known part of early aviation.”
“The first two rambunctious and dangerous years of its brief history unfold in this exciting but hardly romanticized account. Hair raising adventures and disaster arise as Rosenberg and Macaulay project the allure of air mail at that time.”
“In the historical non-fiction, Mavericks of the Sky, the authors have recounted the exacting tale of bold men during the last stages of World War One. The account of the first transcontinental flight on February 22-23, 1921, from San Francisco to New York, is awe-inspiring in itself.”
Midwest Book Review:
“Anyone interested in the mail service and its origins must pursue Mavericks of the Sky: The First Daring Pilots of the U.S Airmail. I highlights a nearly-forgotten piece of history in covering the aces who both pioneered flight and linked the airplane to the US Air Mail Service, from the inaugural New York to Washington DC flight in 1918 to the night flight which would make airmail a mainstay.
Mavericks of the Sky draws on exhaustive research of new archival material to bring forward this unforgettable story of adventure, heroism and suspense set against the threshold of the Jazz Age. It was a dangerous time for mail pilots; fully one-quarter of the pilots died while trying to push the limits of flight to the extreme. Yet, still they signed on in droves—these ex-barnstormers, racecar drivers and WWI flying aces who willingly risked their lives in order to continue their obsession with flying.
Nicknamed “The Suicide Club,” the men of the U.S. Air Mail Service were an amalgam of brazen, headstrong aviators bent on defying the odds. Climbing into their flimsy wood and cloth-covered biplanes they moved the mail through torrential rain and blinding snowstorms, relying on their wits and instincts to keep them out of trouble.
They were constantly driven by tough-talking Second Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger—a gritty newspaperman who along with his boss Albert Burleson, the tenacious postmaster general in the cabinet of President Woodrow Wilson, held a common faith in the future of aviation.
Despite the deaths, the public skepticism and the contempt in which Congress held airmail, Praeger and Burleson refused to give up. Day after day, they held to the same impossible conviction—that airmail could be reliable and eventually far superior to rail service. To prove their point, mail pilots were ordered to maintain strict timetables through the cruelest of weather conditions, creating a bitter clash of wills between postal officials and the group-proud pilots who chafed under their vice-like dictums and policies.
Yet together, this battling group of visionaries left behind an undeniable legacy, both to modern aviation and to the world. Just three years after the first inaugural flight, the U.S. Post Office Department succeeded in expanding airmail westward, ultimately connecting the entire county by air, from New York to San Francisco, establishing the first reliable application of powered flight for civilian use.
Rosenberg and Macaulay unfold the lives and exploits of these unlikely American heroes in a narrative that is as irresistibly fascinating as its subject—revealing the underpinnings of the American pioneer spirit.
Hardcover published by William Morrow, paperback published by Harper Perennial, with Kindle version also available.