Freudenthal, 1940, The Aviation Business

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Elsbeth E. Freudenthal. The Aviation Business: From Kitty Hawk to Wall Street. New York: The Vanguard Press, 1940.

Scan at HathiTrust.


Freudenthal observes that aviation is a relatively small but critical industry, fostered by government financing which steers it in the direction of military applications.

After a short recap of the history, Freudenthal begins substantially by looking at airplane procurement and concomitant scandals during World War I.

(Most of the book deals with the 1930s.)


Freudenthal writes that:

In addition to the unsettled lawsuits, the depression of 1913 also hampered the development of aviation. Activity slowed down; there were no particularly stimulating developments; no sensational records were made. (p. 16)

(Can we evaluate this claim using our database?)

She comments in a footnote about airplane sales during the war that

This historian has a moral obligation to note here that in 1899 the First Hague Peace Conference passed a resolution to prohibit aircraft from engaging in all such activities as discharging projectiles or explosives. This vote acknowledged the potential importance in war of aircraft, their function being limited to reconnaissance or equally passive roles. Probably this fact can be forgotten, now that it has been mentioned, as quickly as the combatants in 1914 and ever sense, have forgotten it. (p. 26)

According to Lin, 1932, Aeronautical Law in Time of War this prohibition, adopted at the 1899 and 1907 conferences, lasted only for five years and could be annulled if one's opponent allied with a non-contracting power. Thus, whatever its moral truth, it may not have been considered legally binding.

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