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Publisher's Summary

When the Marines decided to buy a helicopter-airplane hybrid "tiltrotor" called the V-22 Osprey, they saw it as their dream machine. The tiltrotor was the aviation equivalent of finding the Northwest Passage: an aircraft able to take off, land, and hover with the agility of a helicopter yet fly as fast and as far as an airplane. Many predicted it would reshape civilian aviation. The Marines saw it as key to their very survival.

By 2000, the Osprey was nine years late and billions of dollars over budget, bedeviled by technological hurdles, business rivalries, and an epic political battle over whether to build it at all. Opponents called it one of the worst boondoggles in Pentagon history. The Marines were eager to put it into service anyway. Then two crashes killed 23 Marines. They still refused to abandon the Osprey, even after the Corps' own proud reputation was tarnished by a national scandal over accusations that a commander had ordered subordinates to lie about the aircraft's problems.

Based on in-depth research and hundreds of interviews, The Dream Machine recounts the Marines' quarter-century struggle to get the Osprey into combat. Whittle takes the listener from the halls of the Pentagon and Congress to the war zone of Iraq, from the engineer's drafting table to the cockpits of the civilian and Marine pilots who risked their lives flying the Osprey - and sometimes lost them. He reveals the methods, motives, and obsessions of those who designed, sold, bought, flew, and fought for the tiltrotor. These stories, including never-before-published eyewitness accounts of the crashes that made the Osprey notorious, not only chronicle an extraordinary chapter in Marine Corps history but also provide a fascinating look at a machine that could still revolutionize air travel.

©2010 James Richard Whittle (P)2010 Tantor

Critic Reviews

The Dream Machine expertly weaves telling technical details with heart-stopping human drama into a riveting, fast-paced history of one of the military's most controversial war machines.” (The New York Times)

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  • llr
  • Wimberley, Tx United States
  • 09-25-10

Innovation runs into government

The book is about one aircraft. But author Richard Whittle provides insight into how government (bureaucrats and officers, processes, budgeting) and private companies and their executives affect one product, a military aircarft. The books gets into the Pentagon, Bell and Boeing, but is driven by key civilian and military players in the development of new aviation technology. Importantly, Whittle shows how key decisions trickle down, and can mean life and death to the lives of our servicemen and women.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating

It is difficult to understand that a single machine required so long to be developed. This is an epic story and is told by a master.

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Osprey instructor

Good book but it's more about Spivey than the Osprey. Almost half of what went on when I was working at Bell solving the top 5 Osprey problems were not even mentioned in the book.

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