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Jet Age: Entrepreneurship Lessons From The Sky

A drama-driven revolution, or what Sillicon Valley can learn from 1950s test pilots.

If you’ve ever seen Louis C.K.’s now-iconic Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy bit (which you absolutely should), you know not to take air travel for granted. And yet we still do. (For some meta-ironic full disclosure, we’re writing this from aboard Virgin America.) But a new book by New York Times correspondent Sam Howe Verhovek, released for the 50th anniversary of the Jet Age, pulls us back from our modern aero-complacency and reintroduces mystery, exhilaration and fascination into the world of human flight.

Jet Age: The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World is as much a design and engineering epic as it is a timeless manifesto for entrepreneurship and risktaking.

Though it explores the rich and turbulent history of commercial air travel as a force of globalization, Jet Age is not a history book per se. Rather, it’s part adventure story, part detective book, in which the technological marvels of the era are but a mere vehicle for the electrifying human spirit that underlies them, from the remarkable engineers to the brilliant businessmen to the fearless test pilots.

It is also a David and Goliath story we all love to hear, the one about the nimble little guy, in this case Boeing, taking a big gamble to eventually defeat the slow-moving behemoth.

The insight and inspiration in that story make it required reading for any modern entrepreneur struggling to break through with nothing but passion, character and — never to be understimated — the right team. Jet Age is a powerful reminder that it can be, and has been, done.

Published October 14, 2010




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