Champions of Flight

Clayton Knight and William Heaslip: Artists Who Chronicled Aviation from the Great War to Victory in WWII

Sheryl Fiegel, Theodore Hamady

Champions of Flight celebrates the work of Clayton Joseph Knight (1891-1969) and William John Heaslip (1898-1970), the two preeminent American aviation artists of their time, as they chronicled the golden age of aviation—from Charles Lindbergh's epochal transatlantic flight through the most devastating war in world history (1927-1945).
Date Published :
December 2019
Publisher :
Illustration :
220 color images, 200 b/w images
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612007793
Pages : 304
Dimensions : 9.5 X 12 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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Champions of Flight celebrates the work of Clayton Joseph Knight (1891–1969) and William John Heaslip (1898–1970), the two preeminent American aviation artists of their time, as they chronicled the golden age of aviation—from Charles Lindbergh's epochal transatlantic flight through the most devastating war in world history (1927–1945). Knight and Heaslip were experienced military men and formally trained artists who, combining an authenticity of experience and an artistic mastery of illustration, produced powerful artwork that influenced a generation of Americans, creating air-minded adults and youngsters, many of whom flocked to US military service after Pearl Harbor.

Aviation became deeply embedded into America’s culture during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Americans became fascinated by aviation celebrities, watched air spectacles, aviation movies and newsreels, and devoured books, aviation industry ads, magazine articles, and Sunday comics featuring pilot heroes. Artists Knight and Heaslip—both of whom were adept as draftsmen, painters and printmakers—fueled the imagination of these Americans through prolific illustrations and artwork that appeared in many diverse publications of the time. Over a period of almost twenty years, Clayton Knight and William Heaslip championed their love of flight through their art, and they did so with enthusiasm, integrity, and generosity. This book, featuring over 400 illustrations and photos, is a tribute to their legacy.

About The Author

Sheryl Fiegel is an art historian with a BA degree in Art History and an MA degree in Fine Arts (Art History) from Tufts University. She has had a varied career, including gallerist, fine art appraiser (ASA), independent curator and corporate art advisor. She served as head of the Air Force Art Collection, during which time she organized a five-day multi-service tribute to honor the combat artists who served in uniform during World War II. This was done under the auspices of the 50th Anniversary of the World War II Commemoration Committee. It was through her research on this project that Fiegel first came into contact with the work of Clayton Knight and William Heaslip. Her husband, John, is a retired Air Force officer, and her late father-in-law was the commanding officer of the 93rd Bomb Group of the Mighty Eighth Air Force during World War II. Her collection of fine art prints from World War II was recently exhibited at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC.

Theodore Hamady holds degrees in Modern European History and Business from the University of Michigan and an MBA in International Business from George Washington University. He is a historian and published author of the highly acclaimed historical book The Nieuport 28: America’s First Fighter, reviews of which can be found at He has also contributed to books on aviation history and aviation art; and he has published numerous articles, one of which was named Best Article of the Year by the editors of Air Power History, published by the USAF Historical Foundation. Hamady is an avid collector of aviation art and associated memorabilia. He recently contributed artifacts and assisted in the production of the World War I American Expeditionary Forces art gallery exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM). Recognized as an “outstanding volunteer” by NASM, he is presently completing his 29th year of service there as a research historian.


Introduction by Dom Pisano, PhD, Curator Emeritus of Aviation and Popular Culture, Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum
Chapter One: Clayton Knight: The Formative Years
Chapter Two: William Heaslip: The Formative Years
Chapter Three: Boom, Bust, and Recovery
Chapter Four: Aviation Fine Art
Chapter Five: Aviation Art for America’s Youth
Chapter Six: U.S. Military and Commercial Aviation 1926-1939
Chapter Seven: A New World War on a Distant Shore
Chapter Eight: All-Out Support for the War Effort
Chapter Nine: For God and Country


"This beautiful new large-format book is a colorful, engaging and visually amazing account of military and civilian aviation’s golden age from Charles Lindbergh’s solo transatlantic flight at age 25 in 1927 through the crucible of WWII. It’s part biography, part art history and part cultural touchstone of a pivotal period."

- Toy Soldier & Model Figure

"With more than 400 photos and illustrations, including images of aerial dogfights, New Yorker covers, and mechanics at work, along with carefully documented and readable text, this title will appeal to historians, aeorphiles, graphic designers, and commercial artists."

- Library Journal

"Anyone with an interest in aviation’s golden age will recognize and appreciate the role these brush-wielding flyboys played, through their personal involvement and by perpetuating that interest among their successors. This beautiful volume is a fitting tribute to their contributions."

- Aviation History Magazine

"The book’s 400-plus finely reproduced illustrations -- gathered from the Knight and Heaslip families, private collections and archival sources -- show that Clayton Knight and William Heaslip earned noteworthy commissions, portraying civilian and military aviation subjects for the rest of their lives...recommended very highly."

- Over the Front

"At the end of the day, this book will wrap you in a warm glow as you leaf through the stupendous range of art. It truly is inspirational stuff."

- War History Online

‘'The text reads well and is genuinely informative and interesting.''

- Aeroplane

"Generally speaking, most World War II American posters don’t have the precise details rendered by Knight and Heaslip...a treasure trove of facts that makes for some delightfully interesting reading."

- Meehan Military Posters

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