I just finished reading Stage Flying 431 B.C. to Modern Times by John A McKinven. It was an interesting read. The text was a little dry at times, but worthwhile. It was particularly good for the history behind flying from the Greek period through the 19th century. I think it is always amazing how many technologically advanced techniques theatre has employed through the ages – especially because some of these effects are only done today with a significant amount of planning and financial capacity.
Besides having a wide variety of historical information, the book includes lots of illustrations, and patent drawings. It’s a worthwhile read.