Those magnificent men in their flying machines were active in October 1910. A dirigible launched a transoceanic attempt from Atlantic City. Balloonists ascended from St. Louis in a contest for longest-flight bragging rights. Heavier-than-air-machines revved up at New York’s Belmont horse track to compete for superlatives in height, speed, and racing. The front-page celebrities of the moment, these aeronauts excited popular interest that Mortimer, capitalizing on archives and contemporary gazettes, restores excellently. No detail, from flying togs to picnic hampers to society gossip, was too tangential for reporters to note. Such period detail embroiders Mortimer’s narrative arcs, of which the first two are straightforward: that dirigible’s crew was rescued at sea, and the balloonists came down in Canadian wilds and elsewhere to wend their ways back to civilization. In contrast, the airplane meet was a harum-scarum drama with wealthy sportsmen—which most entrants besides businessmen Orville and Wilbur Wright were—wrecking their machines and retreating to hotels or hospitals as necessary. For fans of death-defying early aviation, Mortimer’s history is great fun.