Celebrating Moments of Ingenuity

Posted on Fri, December 1, 2017

This month, the Smithsonian has been highlighting moments of ingenuity—trendsetters, groundbreakers, and individuals whose work embodies the spirit of innovation. As part of the Smithsonian Ingenuity Festival (Nov. 1-Dec. 30), the National Air and Space Museum celebrated the next generation of space and aviation pioneers, and those in history who paved the way.

Miss all the fun? Catch-up on our discussion with Kepler project scientist Natalie Batalha, take a look at NASA’s X-57 all-electric aircraft, and explore moments of ingenuity from the Museum’s collections. 

  • Black and white historic photo of Wright Brothers' first flight

    The Wrights launched the world's first flight of a powered heavier-than-air flying machine in 1903. This was the moment that made air transportation a reality. 

  • North American X-15 in Flight

    The X-15 is the world’s fastest aircraft, reaching Mach 6 speeds. It gathered data that made human spaceflight possible.  

  • Apollo Lunar Module

    The Lunar Module allowed humans to visit and return from the Moon. It was the last problem to solve to make us a Moon-faring nation. 

  • Telstar Satellite on Display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall

    The Telstar satellite broadcast the first transatlantic television transmission in 1962, launching the world into a new era of global communication. 

  • Benoist Airboat over Tampa Bay

    The St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line offered the world’s first scheduled flights, serving as a building block for today’s airline industry. 

  • An image of a GPS satellite

    GPS (Global Positioning System) was invented through a combination of efforts in the 1960s by the U.S. Government. Today, satellites circling the Earth help tell your smartphone know where you are. 

  • The International Space Station (ISS)

    Humans have lived on the International Space Station continuously since 2000. Inventions that keep astronauts alive on the ISS also helped us on Earth, like water filtration systems. 

  • Bessie Coleman

    Bessie Coleman was the first African American, male or female, to earn a pilot’s license. 

  • Portrait of Wiley Post

    Wiley Post helped develop the world’s first pressure suit.

  • Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Collection

    Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr., the first African-American U.S. Air Force general officer and commander of the 99th squadron, the first all-black air unit.

  • Jerrie Mock

    Jerrie Mock, the first woman to fly solo around the world.