Cover: Who Owns the Sky?: The Struggle to Control Airspace from the Wright Brothers On, from Harvard University PressCover: Who Owns the Sky? in HARDCOVER

Who Owns the Sky?

The Struggle to Control Airspace from the Wright Brothers On

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Product Details


$29.95 • £23.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674030824

Publication Date: 11/30/2008


360 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

15 halftones


At the heart of this clever, intricate, elegant book is the improbable fact that, for over fifty years, an arcane statute devised by medieval European scholars managed, in the twentieth century, to impede the growth of aviation in the very nation that invented it.—Alexander Frater, The Times Literary Supplement

Banner claims that with this work he has written an intellectual history of American aviation law in the first half of the 20th century. And he has done exactly that—very well… This book is not only a great repository of the history of the question it poses, but is also a great yarn. Banner’s friendly writing style gets one through the stickier details, and one simply feels better—not just better informed—for having read the book.—James T. Crouse, Times Higher Education

[An] engaging book… Historically, British and then U.S. common law declared that property in one’s land extended from the center of the earth to the heavens. Yet ownership of the sky was all but impossible until the inventions of the 19th and 20th centuries made it accessible. At the very moment that ownership was possible, laws recognizing that property right were challenged. Banner narrates a terrific story, discussing how technology, first with the balloon and then other air travel, challenged the law and eventually changed it. The book weaves together the Wright brothers, legal scholarship, the emergence of the airline industry, and eventually the Supreme Court, offering fascinating details about the law on airspace. These changes climax first in a landmark decision by the Supreme Court clarifying airspace property rights, and then the 1967 Outer Space Treaty declaring the universe a common heritage beyond ownership… This is a fun, well-written, and informative book.—D. Schultz, Choice

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