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Schatzberg, Eric, 1956- / Wings of wood, wings of metal : culture and technical choice in American airplane materials, 1914-1945

Acknowledgements,   pp. [xiii]-[xvi]

Page [xiii]

HISTORICAL RESEARCH AND WRITING are solitary activities, making it easy to
forget that the generation of historical knowledge, like all knowledge, is a
social process. This book is no exception, and I have benefited tremen-
dously from the many people who have willingly shared their expertise,
whether or not they agreed with my argument.
When, as a graduate student, I first delved into aeronautical history, I
received invaluable advice from numerous well-established aviation histori-
ans, among them Tom Crouch, David Lewis, Walter Vincenti, Alex Roland,
and especially Richard K. Smith. Walter Vincenti's studies of aviation his-
tory, with their detailed analyses of the process of technical change, were an
important inspiration for me. William F Trimble shared with me drafts of
his work on the Naval Aircraft Factory and also provided well-grounded
criticisms of my argument. I spent a summer as a graduate fellow at the
Aeronautics Department of the National Air and Space Museum, where I
learned a great deal from the historians, curators, and librarians there,
among them Dominick Pisano, Ron Davies, Peter Jakab, and especially
Howard Wolko. The late aeronautical engineer Nicholas J. Hoff shared with
me some of his vast knowledge of aeronautical history Another aeronauti-
cal engineer turned historian, Mark Levinson, has strongly encouraged me
from the early days of this project. Mark also provided valuable comments
on the final manuscript.
I owe special thanks to Robert Friedel, who drove up to Philadelphia
from Maryland to hear the first public presentation of what became the
thesis of this book. After the talk, Robert mentioned that he had written an
unpublished paper that made essentially the same argument more than a
dozen years earlier. Robert not only shared his own paper with me but
strongly encouraged me to focus my research on the shift from wood to
metal airplanes. If priority matters in history, Robert certainly deserves
credit as the first professional historian to recognize the ideological charac-
ter of the debate over wood and metal airplanes. I have continued to benefit
from Robert's insightful analysis of the role of materials in the history of
The book owes much to the creative intellectual environment I encoun-
tered during my graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania's Depart-
ment of History and Sociology of Science. I had the great fortune to work
with Thomas P Hughes, under whose guidance I began this book in its
earlier life as a dissertation. Tom's own work provided me with a model of
scholarship that is both innovative and rigorous, and his prudent advice

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