on April 12, 2000
Engineering Analysis of Flight Vehicles was originally aimed ata very narrow target -- the trained but unspecialised engineer, whosefirst exposure to aeronautical engineering would come in graduate school through this book. It hits that target quite well, with one warning I will mention below. What if you are not that graduate student? It depends. This book will be of very little use to you if are, for instance, a pilot wishing to know more about aeronautical engineering, or a shade-tree designer prototyping a homebuilt aeroplane, beginning from a layman's level. If you are that person, you might still learn from this book, but you must dust off your calculus and prepare to take it slowly and work the equations intensively... which may not be what you had in mind. The unprepared reader will sink without a bubble after Chapter 1, 'The Morphology of Flight Vehicles,' a basic introduction, when at the start of Chapter two Ashley says, 'Out of respect for brevity and the reader's prior education...' he will not repeat the rudiments of engineering science.
The Engineering Analysis mentioned in the title is the dynamic analysis... don't look for structural analysis here, which is just as well given the age of the basic material.
I personally find the book useful in my engineering cross-training, and it's led to having a lot of fun with numbers. I got a kick out of the coverage of space-launch dynamics which makes up much of the last third of the book, although I'll never have a practical use for it. (I don't know: does this book sell well to North Korea?)
The warning I mentioned? Engineering is not a static science, and this book is OLD. Ancient, even. Aero engineering has seen changes even since Dover republished it in 1992, and they published it unchanged from its 1974 debut -- in 1974, the computer I used resided forty miles away, DC-3s were still in scheduled service here, and the materials many modern aircraft are made from weren't out of the lab.
There are a few annoying typos, even though Dover claims to have corrected the original text in this regard. Either they used an illiterate copy editor or the original was REALLY pretty grim. However, I have not found any typos yet in the equations.
In conclusion the book is a good but dated text for someone crossing over into aeronautical engineering from another engineering or scientific discipline. One thing that does recommend it is its bargain price, a tiny fraction of the cost of a more up-to-date textbook.