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November 4, 2003

Purdue writer can discuss aviation pioneers, history of flight

Since the first manned flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright on Dec. 17, 1903, Purdue University has played a crucial role in shaping the course of aviation and space travel, says the author of a recently released book.

"Lots of people know about Purdue's 22 astronaut alumni, but you could also call Purdue the 'cradle of pilots.' If you look at the history of flight, at every major development, every important achievement, Purdue alumni have been involved," says John Norberg, a senior writer at Purdue.

Norberg's book, "Wings of Their Dreams: Purdue In Flight," tells the stories of people connected with Purdue who have played key roles in the development of flight, including Neil Armstrong, Amelia Earhart and other aviation pioneers. Purdue University Press released the book this month.

"While many people know about Purdue's most famous pilots and astronauts, they don't know the full impact the university has had since nearly the beginning of manned flight," Norberg said. "For example, as early as 1909, Purdue engineer J. Clifford Turpin was working with the Wright brothers to improve the engine that powered their fragile flying machine."

Norberg can talk not only about Purdue alumni and their roles in the advancement of aviation and space exploration, but also about the general history of the field.

CONTACT: Norberg, (765) 496-7783,