Emilio Herrera (1879-1967) provides an insider's view of the early days of aviation in his memoirs. His recounting of experiments with hydrogen balloons and dirigibles arouses humor one moment and amazement the next in the depictions of courageous, if not fool-hardy, young aviators. Underlying the adventure of daring races and the romantic gestures, such as his planned honeymoon trip in a balloon from Barcelona to Paris, is a detailed recollection of the scientific debates of aviation's early history. Herrera applied his trainning as an engineer to anything airborne: balloons, biplanes and other early aircraft, dirigibles, helicopters, the atomic and hydrogen bombs, and satellites. His professional career placed him in the mainstream of scientific investigation of the principles of flight, and he consulted with such major figures as Albert Einstein and Sir Arthur Eddington. Yet it is Herrera the adventurer, the fearless and brilliant scientist with an unfailing sense of humor, that comes through as narrator in the memoirs.
Readers interested in ballooning and flying will be captivated by the personality and adventures of Herrera. The accompanying essay by Thomas F. Glick locates the events depicted in their historical and scientific context. Elizabeth Ladd's translation preserves Herrera's understand ironic wit.