During the 1920s and 1930s, civilian pioneers of aviation and rocketry pushed the boundaries of technology, culture, business, and the imagination. Commercial and private flight grew from a curiosity and spectacle into a viable technology. Aircraft designs grew diverse and specialized, from light personal airplanes to sleek racers to transports.
Barnstormers drew eager crowds, and despite the Great Depression, aviation became a popular spectator sport. Children built model airplanes and followed the exploits of their "pulp fiction" heroes. Pilots and entrepreneurs displayed daring and ingenuity, while the federal government provided regulations and incentives to help aviation grow.
Charles Lindbergh ignited "airmindedness" with his solo transatlantic flight and his journeys with Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Record setter Amelia Earhart set a powerful example for women, while African Americans fought discrimination to prove themselves as able aviators. C. G. Taylor and William Piper produced an airplane for the common man. Robert Goddard and other experimenters tested rockets—the key to space travel—and launched rocket engineering.