Russell Lee


  • Aeronautics Department

Russ Lee

Mr. Lee is a curator in the Aeronautics Department of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. He curates two collections: sport and recreation aircraft including homebuilts, hang gliders, ultralights, and sailplanes, and the collection of Japanese World War II aircraft. There are 42 sport and recreation aircraft and they represent enthusiasts, builders, and pilots who have constructed and flown numerous designs and configurations. The collection of 20 Japanese aircraft is one of the largest in the world. In addition to collecting, interpreting, and documenting those artifacts, Lee has participated in preserving and restoring various museum aircraft including the Horten H III f, H III h, and Ho VI V2 all-wing sailplanes, the Pitcairn PCA-1A autogiro, Vought V-173 Flying Pancake, and the Horten Ho 229 V3 all-wing jet.

Mr. Lee’s research focuses on all-wing and delta wing aircraft, and sport and recreation aircraft. He wrote Only the Wing: Reimar Horten’s Epic Quest to Stabilize and Control the All-Wing Aircraft (Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2011). He has published journal articles including “Know the Sky: A History of Interaction between Meteorology and Soaring” (Technical Soaring, October 2012), and “Arlington Sisu 1A: Rise and Demise of America’s Most Successful Competition Sailplane and the Beginning of the Era of Fiberglass” (American Aviation Historical Society Journal, Vol. 49, No. 3, Fall 2004). Mr. Lee is writing a book about the history of ultralight aircraft.

Lee is co-curator on the We All Fly and Commons exhibition teams. He has also curated exhibits about sport aviation, aeronautical pioneers, and aviation technology.

Mr. Lee earned a BA from Southwest Texas State University and an MA from George Mason University.

Contact Information