Our archival collections span the history of flight and include a wide range of visual and textual materials, including documents; photographs; motion picture film and video; and more than two million technical drawings. Below you will find a selection of our archival holdings that have been made available online.
Technical and Scale Drawings
Our Archives is the repository for more than two million aircraft and spacecraft technical and scale drawings, donated over the decades by manufacturers, the armed services, and by individual illustrators.
Aircraft Technical Manuals
We have over 40,000 technical manuals covering aircraft, engines, and other air-related equipment. Most of these manuals were developed and published by the military for their own use from circa 1915 through 1970, with the bulk of the manuals covering World War II aircraft (1940-1945).
Captured German & Japanese Air Technical Documents
In the final days of World War II, the advancing Allies captured a number of German and Japanese documents on various technical subjects. This microfilm series, which includes more than 5,000 reels of microfilm, contains documents pertaining to aircraft and aeronautical subjects, including aircraft manuals, flight test reports, and engineering studies of aircraft.
Technical Reference Files
The Technical Reference Files comprise an artificial collection that currently contains 1,900 cubic feet of aviation and space related materials, organized in 22 subject series.
Our Film Archives has catalogued a collection of more than 20,000 motion picture titles. This collection documents the history of aerospace flight from the Wright brothers to the space shuttle.
Our holding include glass plate negatives of early Wright brothers flights, photography of Apollo astronauts, detailed shots of aircraft components, and much more.
The Archives holds a number of audio collections, including oral history interviews and recordings of Museum events. The recordings, made between the 1950s to the early 1990s, include interviews with notable aerospace personalities and numerous events in the development of flight.
Aircraft History Cards
Our Archives holds microfilm copies of aircraft records created by the United States Air Force and its predecessors and the United States Navy.