The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed

John McPhee

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

192 Pages



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This is the fascinating story of the dream of a completely new aircraft, a hybrid of the plane and the rigid airship—huge, wingless, moving slowly through the lower sky. It carries bridges, buildings, fleets of trucks. It is a flying warehouse. It eliminates the need for roads, railroads, prepared harbors—or so goes the dream. With an arching back and a deep belly, it looks like a tremendous pumpkin seed. Its early and secret experimental developmental took twelve years' time and 1.5 million dollars. All of this capital came from private individuals. Much of it was raised by the minister of the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Trenton, New Jersey, who initiated the project.

The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed is well-crafted and well-reported, surprising and engrossing—exactly the sort of nonfiction John McPhee is known and loved for.


Praise for The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed

"It's a book Leonardo da Vinci would have warmed to, a set of experiments he'd have changed."—Paul West, The Washington Post

"What gives [McPhee's] writing its powerful fascination is the strange, raw quality of fact: it all really happened, just the way he says . . . McPhee watches so intently that the Aereon and its people become real and important to the reader."—John Skow, Los Angeles Times

"McPhee has a genius for writing about unusual people whose activities border on the eccentric, and the Aereon project abounded with them. His engrossing account can be read at a sitting."—Donald R. Morris, The Houston Post

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Read an Excerpt

Deltoid Pumpkin Seed, The
IN GREAT SECRECY, on a private airstrip about fifty miles southwest of New York, Aereon 7 got ready to fly. Conditions were good. It was a clear August evening in 1970, humid, but not remarkably so for that time of year near the coastal plain. In dark stands of ash and oak by the field, leaves were not moving. A wind sock, almost half a mile away, hung still; and far beyond that, on the horizon of this flat landscape, stood barracks of the state police, where no activity was discernible, and where the flags of New Jersey and the United States hung without motion from
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  • John McPhee

  • John McPhee is the author of more than 25 books, including Annals of the Former World, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction in 1999. He has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1965 and lives in Princeton, New Jersey. McPhee's Encounters with the Archdruid and The Curve of Binding Energy were both nominated for National Book Awards in the category of science.
  • John McPhee Peter Cook