General aviation encompasses all the ways aircraft are used beyond commercial and military flying: private flights, barnstormers, cropdusters, and so on. This history examines the many airplanes used in general aviation, from early Wright and Curtiss aircraft to the Piper Cub and the Lear Jet. The authors trace the careers of birdmen, birdwomen, barnstormers, and others who shaped general aviation.
In 1903 at the soon-to-open Luna Park on Coney Island, an elephant named Topsy was electrocuted, likely with advice from Thomas Edison,whose film crew recorded the horrible event. Over the past century, this bizarre, ghoulish execution has reverberated through popular culture with the ring of an urban legend. But it really happened, and today, Edison’s footage can be found on YouTube, where it has been viewed nearly two million times.