Millions of spectators watch aerobatic demonstrations each year, but it isn't all just for show. Aerobatic flying has influenced major advances in aircraft technology and military pilots develop aerobatic maneuvers to improve fighter tactics.
America by Air explores the history of air transportation in the United States and shows how the federal government has shaped the airline industry, how improvements in technology have revolutionized air travel, and how the flying experience has changed.
Since the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, men and women have had to break both physical and psychological barriers to flight. In these historic aircraft, individuals strived to claim their place in aviation history.
Tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War resulted in a competition to create advanced technologies aimed at gathering intelligence. Aerial reconnaissance played an important role, and the Lockheed SR-71 was a a direct result of this struggle for supremacy.
Flying was new and daring in the early years of the 20th century. Traveling by airplane was rare. Airlines, airliners, airports, air routes—none of these existed. But by century's end, you could travel to almost anywhere in America by air in a matter of hours. Commercial aviation is now both a commonplace and an essential aspect of modern life. It has revolutionized the world.
This gallery resembles an indoor aeronautical exhibition of 1913 and covers the birth and early years of the air age. Planes on display include the 1909 Wright Military Flyer (world's first military airplane), the Ecker Flying boat, a 1911 Curtiss Pusher and an 1894 Lilienthal glider.