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On August 19, 1942, Fairchild Aircraft Division of the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation opened Plant 7, the first unit in the company to employ Black workers, both men and women, as part of their WWII aircraft manufacturing efforts. In late 1944, Plant 5 at Wilson Boulevard and Kuhn Avenue, manufacturing corrugated parts for the Martin PBM Mariner, replaced Plant 7 as the designated plant for Black employees. A rich, yet incomplete, record of their wartime service can be found in the Fairchild Industries, Inc. Collection at the National Air and Space Museum Archives.
Throughout his career, Museum curator Ron Davies collected everything--tickets, timetables, brochures, photographs, public relations releases, and baggage labels—from airlines around the world from his travels. He encouraged his friends and colleagues to save their materials for him. He wrote to airlines and aircraft manufacturers soliciting information. This material, totaling over 62 cubic feet, became the basis for the R. E. G. (Ron) Davies Air Transport Collection at the National Air and Space Museum Archives.
The Museum's Archives holds large digitized collections highlighting the contributions of high-profile women, ranging from aviators Louise McPhetridge Thaden and the Ninety-Nines to astronauts Sally K. Ride and Kathryn D. Sullivan. There are also smaller collections, some containing just one to two documents, representing women whose experiences are just as important to telling the full story of women in aviation and space flight.
While not a household name, Gerard K. O’Neill contributed greatly to furthering the ideas of space flight for the post-Apollo era of the 1970s. Explore his work and futuristic visions.
Beyond Kathryn D. Sullivan's years as an astronaut, she ventured into many other fields of work and study. Sullivan is a trained scientist with a Ph.D. in geology, who has conducted extensive oceanographic research on the floors of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. She has also served in the U.S. Naval Reserve (USNR) and as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator.
While our Museum archivists were in the process of updating the NASM Technical Reference Files, they noticed that some women were missing names, often identified by their husband's names. This blog explores how the full names of these women were restored, and re-visits their lives and careers.
Donated by Ahmed A. “Sammy” Rayner, Jr, these images, paired with his remembrances of his time as a Tuskegee Airman, provide vivid examples of the daily lives of the 477th Bombardment Group and experiences as a Black officer.
In late 1959, the FAA released its “Age 60 Rule,” which essentially required mandatory retirement for airline pilots over age 60. As his 60th birthday rapidly approached, Captain Michael Gitt appealed with an age discrimination lawsuit against Eastern Airlines to help him overturn the age disqualification. Read about his attempt to leverage the new Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA).
In the era of the Space Shuttle from the 1980s to the early 2010s, NASA astronauts would receive numerous information booklets and other written materials which would explain to them how to operate the Space Shuttle. The Museum's Archives holds two rich collections related to this intense technical training in the personal papers of Sally K. Ride and David M. Brown.
On September 25, 1912, Alberto Salinas Carranza and Gustavo Salinas Camiña received their pilot licenses from the Aero Club of America. The Salinas cousins were the first of a group of five Mexican pilots sent by their government to the United States to study at the Moisant Aviation School at Hempstead, Long Island. The photographs and correspondence found in the collection of Shakir S. Jerwan, their “profesor,” provide a unique glimpse into the early history of Mexican aviation.