From the Archives

Sat, February 27 2021

The Dream of Abyssinia: Two Black Aviators and Ethiopia

In 1896, Ethiopians had turned back an Italian invasion at Adwa (Adowa), serving as an example of a Black-led country’s defiance of Europe. Taking inspiration from Ethiopia’s long history as an independent Black nation, two Black aviators—Hubert Julian and John C. Robinson—were drawn to Ethiopia by the events of 1935.

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Hubert Julian and Bellanca "Abyssinia"
Thu, January 28 2021

Commemorating the 35th Anniversary of Challenger

On January 28, 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger was set to launch on STS-51-L, on a mission to observe and track Halley’s Comet—73 seconds after launch, the shuttle disintegrated, ending the lives of all seven crew members. The disaster was most heavily felt in the space community and even in the realm of the cultural arts. Particularly, famed science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke and astronaut Sally K. Ride had their own respective responses to this tragedy.

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Commemorating the 35th Anniversary of Challenger

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Sally Ride's Rogers Commission Notebook
Thu, December 31 2020

Celebrating the Holidays with Arthur C. Clarke

As I have been scanning the correspondence that science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke received over his lifetime, a constant staple of correspondence always crops up near the end of a year. These being the abundant number of Christmas cards Clarke would get around the holidays.

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Christmas Card, Arthur C. Clarke
Thu, December 17 2020

70 Years Ago: F-86s and MiGs over Korea

On December 17, 1950, the first known aerial combat between swept-wing jet fighters took place in the skies over Korea. The Russian-built Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 had been recently introduced and its speed and maneuverability caused trouble for the United States and in response, the North American F-86 Sabre was rushed to Korea. Ward Hitt, Jr., a member of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Group, chronicled the early days of the F-86 in combat in a detailed scrapbook.

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Ward Hitt, Jr. in his F-86A Sabre Cockpit
Sun, November 29 2020

Francis D. Bowhan: Osage Pilot

Francis Dawson, whose heritage was almost always included in newspaper coverage of his flights (usually with the generic term “Indian”) remains a name to be remembered in Osage County, Oklahoma.

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Pilot Francis D. "Chief" Bowhan
Fri, October 30 2020

Famous Correspondents of Arthur C. Clarke

Throughout his long life, famed science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke corresponded with numerous people. This blog examine the correspondents that Clarke had with Stanley Kubrick, rocket scientist and pioneer Wernher von Braun, and Irish fantasy author Edward Plunkett, who published under the name Lord Dunsany.

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Arthur C. Clarke
Thu, October 29 2020

Herbert Desind: A Passion for Spaceflight

The Archives of the National Air and Space Museum holds three million images in various photographic formats, covering the breadth and depth of the history of aviation and space flight. One such collection is the Herbert Stephen Desind Collection, which covers the history of space flight and exploration.  

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Herbert Stephen Desind Collection
Mon, October 26 2020

So What’s Up with the SOVA? Accessing Digital Air and Space Collections on the Smithsonian Online Virtual Archives

Part of the fun of research is getting elbow deep into the original documents that make up the collections of the National Air and Space Museum Archives. But we also understand that it is difficult for many researchers to make in-person visits to the Archives at the Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. As an alternative, you can experience the NASM Archives (and other Smithsonian collections) anywhere through the Smithsonian Online Virtual Archives (SOVA)!

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Smithsonian Online Virtual Archives (SOVA) Homepage
Tue, September 29 2020

Chauffeur of the Skies: A. Roy Knabenshue’s Passenger Registries

A. Roy Knabenshue became interested in lighter-than-air flight after seeing a balloon ascension when he was 5 years old and would become the first person to successfully pilot a dirigible in the United States, flying Thomas S. Baldwin’s California Arrow at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.

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A. Roy Knabenshue's Family in an Airship
Tue, August 18 2020

Women's Suffrage Stories in the Archives

On August 18, 2020, the United States celebrates the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which declared that the right to vote "shall not be denied...on account of sex." Several collections in the National Air and Space Museum Archives provide short stories along the long path of the women’s suffrage movement and the 19th Amendment.

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Page from Ruth Law Scrapbook - Votes for Women Ribbon

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