TECHNICAL REFERENCE FILES
Created by the staff of the National Air and Space Museum,
the Technical Reference Files comprise an artificial collection that
currently contains 1,300 cubic feet of aviation and space related materials,
organized in twenty-two subject series. File materials include photographs,
press releases, clippings, correspondence, reports, and brochures, on
individuals, organizations, events, and objects.
The majority of the Archives Division's public reference requests can be answered using material in these files, which may be accessed through the Archives Reading Room at the Museum in Washington DC. More specific information can be requested by contacting the Archives Reference
List of Series
Aircraft (240 cubic feet)
Heavier-than-Air (180 cubic feet)
Human-carrying, heavier-than-air craft which are supported primarily
by dynamic lift, including airplanes (powered fixed-wing aircraft),
gliders and hang gliders (unpowered, fixed-wing aircraft),
helicopters (powered-rotor rotorcraft), and autogiros
(unpowered-rotor rotorcraft). Also included are unmanned vehicles that
were originally designed as man-carrying aircraft. (Aircraft designed
from the start as unmanned vehicles can be found in the Space
History reference files with missiles and rockets.)
Lighter-than-Air (LTA)(60 cubic feet)
History, science and art of airships and balloons from the 18th
century to the present.
Propulsion (175 cubic feet)
Air-breathing engines. (Other power plants for aircraft (including rocket
motors) are filed under the Space Propulsion subseries.)
Accessories Accessories and components which support air-breathing
engines; also fuels, coolants, and lubricants.
Propellers Specific models, listed by designer or manufacturer;
also general topics.
All methods of spacecraft propulsion (even "passive" concepts such as
the Solar Sail), spacecraft power sources (such as solar batteries and
fuel cells), all rocket motors (including those used to power aircraft
and other vehicles), and all accessories and components.
Biographical (261 cubic feet)
Information on specific people involved in the history of aviation and
space exploration listed alphabetically by name. Please note that
these files are organized by name ONLY, and the Archives is not
able to identify specific groups of people from this file series based
on civilian or military affiliation, ethnicity, or gender.
Organizations (27 cubic feet)
Aviation and space related organizations.
Corporations (15 cubic feet)
Basic information about aviation and space corporations.
Air Transport (105 cubic feet)
Broad air transport topics such as air cargo, economics, insurance,
refueling and maintenance, regulation, salvage, and statistics.
Specific regularly scheduled passenger and/or cargo carrying airlines.
By Region or Nation
Materials covering air transportation topics within specific world regions.
Specific U. S. and foreign airports; also general topics such as airport
equipment, planning, and security.
Basic history of air mail services, foreign and domestic.
Electronics and Communications (24 cubic feet)
Electronics and communications equipment; also related topics such as
air traffic control, navigational aids, and radar.
Avionics equipment by manufacturer.
Education (42 cubic feet)
Aircraft recognition training programs and materials, both U. S. and
foreign (predominantly World War II). Includes various aircraft spotter's
guides and information on WWII's National Model Building Program.
General topics; also specific aviation schools (predominantly U.S.)
Training Guides Documents used for training.
Events, Air Expositions, Meets, Races, and Shows
(42 cubic feet)
By Date and Location
Information organized by date (1868 to the present) and location of
event; includes assorted ephemera such as brochures, programs, advertisements,
Information dealing with broad categories of flights or events, for
example: transatlantic, around-the-world, and altitude attempts.
Awards and Trophies (12 cubic feet)
Specific awards and trophies by name; also general topics pertaining
to many awards.
Equipment (54 cubic feet)
Assorted aviation-related general equipment topics; includes the Brodie
System, specialized tractors and trucks, and general information on
markings, insignia and camouflage.
Clothing, Flight Gear, and Insignia
Information on clothing and related flight gear, and the insignia used
on them (both U.S. and foreign). Does not include pressure suits and
g-suits, which appear in a separate subseries below.
Information on oxygen equipment.
Information on the history of parachutes; also some specific types.
Pressure Suits and G-Suits
Information on pressure suits and g-suits.
Instruments by type (altimeter, compass, air speed indicator, etc.)
and by manufacturer. Also includes general topics such as instrument
illumination, lubrication, and testing.
Space History (270 cubic feet)
Topics related to space exploration, astronomy, missiles, rocketry,
or remotely piloted vehicles. Also includes technologically related
programs and vehicles that were designed to function entirely within
the Earth's atmosphere.
General Aviation (12 cubic feet)
Non-commercial civil aviation.
General topics such as aerial refueling, aerobatic flying, and business
General aviation by state; also some information on general aviation
in other countries.
Uses of Aircraft
Agriculture, advertising, fire fighting, insect control, meteorology,
Government (12 cubic feet)
National and international government agencies and regulations.
Arts and Literature (12 cubic feet)
Aviation and space exploration as depicted in art, literature, motion
pictures, radio, and television; also includes aircraft nose art.
Military (84 cubic feet)
Military aviation by country (non-U.S.); includes general information
U.S. military aviation, including selected Air Force bases and units,
basic information on aircraft carriers, and military flight demonstration
Guns, bombs and bombing, bombsights, ammunition, gun mounts, gun turrets,
gun sights, chemical warfare, anti-aircraft guns and accessories.
Wars (12 cubic feet)
Aviation's role in various wars and conflicts, from the 1914 Mexican
Punitive Expedition through Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
Museums (144 cubic feet)
Non-Smithsonian aviation and space museums around the world, by name.
Basic information on the National Air and Space Museum, and related
past and present Smithsonian Institution facilities and exhibits. Researchers
seeking detailed information on the history of the Museum or its past
exhibits should contact the Smithsonian
Models (9 cubic feet)
Various types of scale aircraft models and related topics; also wind
tunnel test models.
Safety (15 cubic feet)
Includes basic information on topics such as accident investigation,
safety equipment, medicine, rescue, survival training, noise abatement,
Miscellaneous (33 cubic feet)
Very small subseries of miscellaneous topics such as natural flight
(birds and insects), preservation of air and space craft, sonic booms,
National or Regional Histories
Documents regarding aviation history within specific regions.
Air navigation history, equipment, and systems.
Aerial photography history and equipment.
Engineering related to specific types of aircraft systems, such as landing
gear, rotors, materials, tires, seats, and wings. Also information on