Book Review #37: “The Unknown and Impossible: How a research facility in Virginia mastered the air and conquered space”

The Unknown and Impossible

Image Credit: Amazon

“I am proud to be part of a species where a subset of its members willingly put their lives at risk to push the boundaries of our existence.”

~ Neil deGrasse Tyson


Mike Holtzclaw is a good friend of mine from church and our blood drives. This year, he’s also a co-author of this amazing book. He, along with Tamara Dietrich, and Mark St. John Erickson, are all employees with the Daily Press. All part of the News division, Dietrich is the Senior Reporter – Science and Environment, Holtzclaw is a Senior Reporter, and Erickson is the Senior Reporter – History.

Mike took to Facebook a while back to make the announcement that the book was being published. I immediately went to Amazon and pre-ordered it. I was impressed – It arrived earlier than expected!

Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop! Having worked for the student newspaper of Longwood University, The Rotunda, I immediately recognized the vast amount of research, interviews, and collaboration that went into writing this book!

It’s such a quick read, but it’s jam-packed with over 100 years of history, and a look into our future. I thought I knew a lot about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Langley, but boy, was I wrong!

It’s fitting they published the book during the 100th anniversary of Langley Research Center, as well as the 25th anniversary of the Virginia Air & Space Center (The NASA Langley Visitor Center), both located in Hampton, Virginia. I remember taking many trips to the Air & Space Center as a kid, having grown up across the water in Chesapeake. I was always in awe of the exhibits and the history there. However, this book has helped me truly understand how significant Langley has been to the development of the space program, training the astronauts, and making both aviation and space travel better.

If you haven’t seen Hidden Figures, just do it. It’s not only an impressive movie, but it also shines a nice spotlight on both Hampton and Langley. I want to read Margot Lee Shetterly’s book as well. Katherine Johnson is one of the many profiles in the book, and she’s 98 years old!

I greatly appreciated the dedication to historical accuracy – The authors clearly demonstrated that. They used a vast array of sources, resources, and interviews. Thanks to their work, I now have a much better appreciation of Hampton as a city, and this great research facility that started out so small, and unappreciated. I always smile when I see the NASA logo directing people to Langley on Interstate 64 West on my way to work every weekday!

In addition to historical accuracy, I loved seeing all the photos! I loved how they were set within the text, and each one of them added something to the words on the page. Plus, the profiles of the pioneering people at the end of every chapter was really awesome to see and read, recognizing their talents and contributions from 1917 forward.

If you want to learn about how NASA came out of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), how a tiny corner of southeastern Virginia was one of the first places to pursue and develop groundbreaking research in aviation, how aviation development gave way to the space program, and what the future may behold – Absolutely, definitely read this book.

It’s a refreshing, fascinating read about 100 years that truly shaped our skies, our planet, and our future. Here’s to leaving more footprints on the moon, Mars, and more.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth šŸ™‚

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3 thoughts on “Book Review #37: “The Unknown and Impossible: How a research facility in Virginia mastered the air and conquered space”

  1. Pingback: Tag #22: “How I Choose My Books” Tag – Hot Shot Headlines

  2. Sound like something Jason might like.

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