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Engine Builder Subscriber Pens Historical Aviation Novel


After three decades of research, followed by eight years of challenging writing, Model Aviation Hall Of Fame inductee and engine builder Dave Gierke has finished a two-volume, lightly dramatized biographical novel based on the brilliant, but unrecognized American aviation pioneer, Augustus Moore Herring.

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“To Caress the Air: Augustus Herring and the Dawn of Flight – Book 1” takes place in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and chronicles the engineer’s aeronautical achievements, his ordeals and his triumphs over severe adversity. The book can be pre-ordered in an e-book format until June 1 at www.davegierkebooks.com.

The book’s setting is the New York State Supreme Court in Rochester. NY. Herring’s account is conveyed through his testimony during the 1921 civil action trial Herring-Curtiss Company v. Glenn H. Curtiss, et al., which provides a venue for flashbacks that document his role in solving the age-old problem of manned, powered, heavier-than-air flight.

Herring’s 1902, 4-stroke cycle model aeroplane engine; drawing by author.

Herring-Curtiss V-8 engine (1909) used Herring’s hemi, canted overhead valves and liquid cooling. Curtiss Aviation Book (1912).

Working with other luminaries of aerial navigation, including Lilienthal, Langley, Chanute and Glenn Curtiss, Herring moved his family from New York City, to Washington DC, to Chicago, to St. Joseph, MI, and back to Long Island, NY (with brief stops at Hammondsport, NY, and Marblehead, MA), all in the pursuit of solving the mysteries of dynamic flight.

Gierke says that unlike the Wright brothers, Herring believed flying models were useful for developing full-size, man-carrying aeroplanes. During the 1890s he designed, built and flew many gravity-powered gliders and twisted rubber-powered craft. In 1902, he engineered and fabricated the world’s first practical internal combustion, hemispherical combustion chamber engine. Later, he designed and built the world’s first gas-powered model airplane engine, which he used to power a successful free-flight model in January of 1903; this served as the basis for Ray Arden’s first model engine in 1907.


“As you will see, there is much meaty information concerning the early development of the internal combustion engine within the book’s 750 pages.

Herring’s twin-cylinder opposed gasoline engine (1897); Meiller_Herring Collection.

A lifelong drag-racing enthusiast, Gierke is offering racers and fellow Engine Builder readers a special, limited time offer to pre-order his book in an ebook version for only $1.99. 

In return for this special price, Dave requests that you write a review of Book 1 and submit it to Amazon and Goodreads.


The official launch date of “To Caress the Air – Book 1” will occur on June 1, 2018, at which time the ebook price will revert to $9.99. For more purchase details, including a free gift and several never-before-published photos of Dave’s models, visit www.davegierkebooks.com.

Engine Builder Magazine