Laurence M. Burke, II

Curator of U.S. Naval Aviation

  • Aeronautics Department

Dr. Laurence M. Burke, II earned a BS in Science and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, an MA in Museum Studies from The George Washington University, and an MA and PhD in History and Policy from Carnegie Mellon University. While working on his PhD, he held the Ramsey Fellowship in Naval Aviation History at the National Air and Space Museum.

He curates the U.S. Naval Aviation collection at the museum. This collection, of over 30 U.S. Navy and Marine Corps fixed-wing aircraft, covers all eras of naval aviation from a pre-WWI Curtiss N-9 trainer to the prototype for the next generation of Marine Corps aircraft, the Lockheed Martin X-35B.

Prior to coming to the Museum, Dr. Burke was a Secretary of the Navy Innovation History Post-Doctoral Fellow at the United States Naval Academy, where he taught both the Plebe (freshman) U.S. Navy history survey course as well as an upper-level course in military innovation.

Dr. Burke’s dissertation examined the early history of U.S. military aviation (Army, Navy, and Marine Corps), from the Wright brothers’ sale of their airplane to the U.S. Army in 1909 through the passage of the Air Corps Act of 1926. In particular, he was concerned with how each service developed its own doctrine regarding “best use” of the new technology and how interactions between services influenced this development.

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