This summer, visitors had a unique opportunity to see the transformation of American commercial aviation on the floor of the Mary Engen Restoration Hangar: the Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor, the Boeing 247-D, and the Douglas DC-3
Since the earliest days of flight, air racing has been an exciting motorsports activity. We have in our collection many of the aircraft that made history by winning races and setting records, like Steve Wittman’s Special 20 Buster, which lived two lives in air racing and proved to be an inspiration for an entire class of air racers.
2019 marks the 70th anniversary of two long-distance light plane records by William P. Odom. Those records were set in the Museum’s Beechcraft 35 Bonanza, which is displayed at our Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. In addition, it is also the 100th anniversary of William Paul Odom’s birth, on October 21, 1919, in Porum, Oklahoma.
Until recently, a Lockheed U-2, one of the most successful intelligence-gathering aircraft every produced, was on display in the Museum's Looking at Earth gallery. The U-2 was designed by a team led by Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson at the famous Lockheed 'Skunk Works" in Palmdale, California. The jet played a crucial role during the tense years of the Cold War.
The first pioneering pilots flew the airways during the day without purpose-designed maps. This presented a problem for the U.S. Post Office: Without flying at night, airmail was slower than by railroad and the higher cost of air transport had no value.
Introduced in 1927, the Vega was the first product of designer Jack Northrop and Allan Loughead's Lockheed Aircraft Company. Sturdy, roomy, streamlined and fast, the innovative Vega became favored by pilots seeking to set speed and distance records.
The National Air and Space Museum collection is full of objects that tell the history of air and space exploration. Supervising photographer Jim Preston reflects on one of his favorite objects to photograph—Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit.