March 31, 2006 Tom Crouch Talks on Aeronautics and Astronautics History April 25

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

Smithsonian curator and historian Tom D. Crouch will discuss his new book, “Rocketeers and Gentlemen Engineers: A History of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and What Came Before,” at the Library of Congress at noon on Tuesday, April 25, in Dining Room A on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

A book signing will follow the presentation, which is part of the Books & Beyond author series sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. The program, co-sponsored by the Library’s Manuscript Division and Smithsonian Institution Libraries, is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are needed. Crouch relied heavily on the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) history collection in the Manuscript Division.

“Rocketeers and Gentlemen Engineers” is an account of the significant contributions the AIAA and its predecessor organizations have made to the evolution of flight. It covers the story of visionary individuals and dedicated engineers who have changed society. The book traces the early struggles to create and distinguish aeronautics as a distinct profession, through the technological advances brought on by two world wars and the advances spawned by the Space Age.

Crouch is senior curator of the Division of Aeronautics at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. Since 1974 he has served both the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History in a variety of curatorial and administrative posts. He holds a Ph.D. in American history from Ohio State University, an honorary degree in Doctor of Humane Letters from Wright State University and has won several major writing awards. In the fall of 2000, President Clinton appointed him chairman of the First Flight Centennial Federal Advisory Board.

Crouch is the author or editor of more than a dozen books and many articles for both magazines and scholarly journals. His leading books include “The Bishop’s Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright” (1989); “Dream of Wings: American and the Airplane, 1875-1905” (1981); “Eagle Aloft: Two Centuries of the Balloon in America” (1983); and “Wings: A History of Aviation from Kites to the Space Age” (2003).

The Center for the Book was established in 1977 by public law 95-129 to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books, reading and libraries. More than 60 of its public programs presented at the Library since 2000 may be viewed on its Web site at


PR 06-076
ISSN 0731-3527