Crouch, Tom D. 1944-
Crouch, Tom D. 1944-
Born February 28, 1944, in Dayton, OH; son of Harald Day (an electrician) and Joan Crouch; married Nancy Anne Gochenouer (a homemaker), November 12, 1963; children: Christopher, Bruce, Abigail, Nathan. Education: Ohio University, B.A., 1966; Miami University, M.A., 1968; Ohio State University, Ph.D., 1976.
Writer, historian, curator. Ohio Historical Society, director of education, 1969-73; Ohio American Revolution Bicentennial Advisory Commission, director, 1973-74; National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, curator of aeronautics, 1974—; University of Maryland at College Park, lecturer on the history of technology, 1976-80. First Flight Centennial Federal Advisory Board, chairman, 2000.
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (member of history committee), American Astronautical Society (member of history committee).
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics book award for history, 1976, for A Dream of Wings: Americans and the Airplane, 1875-1905; Aerospace Writers Association literary award, 1980, for Apollo: Ten Years since Tranquility Base; Christopher Award, 1990, for The Bishop's Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright; AIAA Gardner-Lasser Literature Prize, 2005. Also recipient of honorary degrees.
The Giant Leap: A Chronology of Ohio Aerospace Events and Personalities, 1815-1969, Ohio Historical Society (Columbus, OH), 1970.
(Editor) Charles A. Lindbergh: An American Life, Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, DC), 1977.
(Editor, with Richard Hallion) Apollo: Ten Years since Tranquility Base, Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, DC), 1979.
A Dream of Wings: Americans and the Airplane, 1875-1905, Norton (New York, NY), 1981.
Bleriot XI: The Story of a Classic Aircraft, Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, DC), 1982.
The Eagle Aloft: Two Centuries of the Balloon in America, Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, DC), 1983.
The Bishop's Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Norton (New York, NY), 1989.
(With Barbara Embury) The Dream Is Alive: A Flight of Discovery aboard the Space Shuttle (juvenile), Harper (New York, NY), 1990.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (juvenile), Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1990.
Aiming for the Stars: The Dreamers and Doers of the Space Age, Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, DC), 1999.
Wings: A History of Aviation from Kites to the Space Age, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (Washington, DC), 2003.
(With Peter L. Jakab) The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age, National Geographic, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (Washington, DC), 2003.
Rocketeers and Gentlemen Engineers: A History of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics— and What Came Before, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Reston, VA), 2006.
Tom D. Crouch is an American nonfiction writer and biographer. Curator of aeronautics at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum since 1974, he is known for works that explain the history of aeronautics to a lay audience. Though most of Crouch's works are written for adults, he has also written or cowritten juvenile nonfiction, including The Dream Is Alive: A Flight of Discovery aboard the Space Shuttle, based on the IMAX film about the U.S. space shuttle, The Dream Is Alive.
Crouch's A Dream of Wings: Americans and the Airplane, 1875-1905 is about the American pioneers of flight. Realizing that the subject of early aviation often conjures up only visions of Orville and Wilbur Wright at Kitty Hawk, Crouch focuses his attention on the pioneers of aeronautics—the great thinkers whose engineering, experience, failures, and triumphs allowed the Wrights to accomplish the first successful flight of a motor-powered vehicle.
Among those Crouch credits as pioneers of aviation is Samuel Pierpont Langley, after whom Langley Air Force Base is named. In the late 1800s, Langley, then head of the Smithsonian Institution, was diligently working on an unmanned, steam-powered aircraft called the "aerodrome," which could fly three-fourths of a mile. Another early aeronaut was Octave Chanute, a railroad builder who flew gliders at his test site over sand dunes near Lake Michigan. According to Crouch, Chanute proposed the addition of a propeller and motor to gliders in 1894. And Augustus Moore Herring, a glider pilot, created hang gliders powered by stabilizing tails. But it was the Wright brothers who jointly won the race to build and fly the first true airplane. Robert Buckhorn of the Washington Post called A Dream of Wings "a fast-moving blend of scholarship and trivia about a group of colorful characters."
Aiming for the Stars: The Dreamers and Doers of the Space Age is Crouch's narrative history of the space age. Crouch "has produced a book far more informative than his gung-ho title suggests: his book explains, very accessibly, the prehistory and history of space flight, mixing accounts of key players (well known and unknown) with relevant technical and political history," commented a critic for Publishers Weekly. Thomas J. Frieling, in Library Journal, concurred, arguing that Crouch "does a capable job of laying out the story of space travel for a general audience."
Crouch has also written several books that deal specifically with the Wright Brothers and American aviation. Among these are The Bishop's Boys: A Life of Wilburand Orville Wright, First Flight: The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Airplane, and The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age. Crouch further examines pioneers of the space age in his 2006 book, Rocketeers and Gentlemen Engineers: A History of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics— and What Came Before, a popular account of the significant contributions the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and its predecessor organizations have made to the evolution of flight. Crouch follows individual stories of various visionary engineers who helped to develop early technologies for space flight. Among the predecessor organizations were the American Rocket Society and the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences. A reviewer for SciTech Book News found this an "accessible text," while a Mechanical Engineering contributor noted that Crouch's book "celebrates the [American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics'] 75th anniversary."
Crouch was honored in 2000 by an appointment from then-President Bill Clinton to the chairmanship of the First Flight Centennial Federal Advisory Board. This organization was created to advise the Centennial of Flight Commission on various activities planned as a commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of powered flight.
Crouch once told CA: "Most of my work is derived from a basic attempt to understand the way in which technology has interacted with other social forces to shape society. For me, the history of flight is a means of studying deeper questions involving the response of man to machines."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Library Journal, September 15, 1999, Thomas J. Frieling, review of Aiming for the Stars: The Dreamers and Doers of the Space Age, p. 108.
Mechanical Engineering, February, 2007, review of A History of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics—and What Came Before, p. 54.
Publishers Weekly, September 27, 1999, review of Aiming for the Stars, p. 83.
SciTech Book News, March, 2006, review of Rocketeers and Gentlemen Engineers: A History of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics—and What Came Before.
Washington Post, January 31, 1981, Robert Buckhorn, review of A Dream of Wings: Americans and the Airplane, 1875-1905.
Smithsonian Institution Libraries Web site,http://www.sil.si.edu/ (February 15, 2008), "Short Vita: Tom D. Crouch" and "Smithsonian Curator Tom D. Crouch Discusses His New Book, Rocketeers and Gentlemen Engineers."