From 1960: "JOHN BALL, JR., has led a double life, giving half of his time to flying and half to writing. As a youngster, he washed airplanes for barnstorming pilots in order to learn about aviation and get an occasional ride. In later years, a ground and flight instructor for Pan American World Airways, he lost track of the number of times he crossed the Atlantic. He was a commercial pilot, a member of the editorial staff of Fortune, music editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, assistant curator of the Hayden Planetarium, and a columnist on the New York World-Telegram and Sun, before he combined his two careers in his present job as Director of Public Relations of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences. Mr. Ball has written many articles, stories, and books. His previous book for boys was OPERATION SPRINGBOARD, which drew on the experience acquired in both phases of his dual life, as does SPACEMASTER 1."
Now Ball is best known for mystery novels involving the African-American police detective Virgil Tibbs. Tibbs was introduced in the 1965 novel IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, which won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America and was made into an Oscar-winning film of the same name. Ball's departure from the mystery genre was a bestselling what-if political thriller THE FIRST TEAM.
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