Topic

Aircraft

Fri, August 25 2017

The Powerful and Fast P-51 Mustang

The P-51 Mustang was originally designed for the Royal Air Force. However, it became a long-range escort fighter for the U.S. armed forces against Nazi Germany. The production process was efficient and quick; about 14,000 were built during WWII. It was a powerful and fast aircraft with extensive range. The P-51 Mustang was stiff competition for the Luftwaffe. 

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North American P-51 Mustang
Fri, July 21 2017

Five Things to Know About the Spitfire, the Legend of Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan’s latest movie, Dunkirk, will premiere in theaters this upcoming Friday, July 21. And although you may know it stars actors such as Tom Hardy, Harry Styles, and Cillian Murphy, you may not know that the National Air and Space Museum houses examples of two of the main airplanes featured in the film. We have a Royal Air Force (RAF) Supermarine Spitfire and a Messerschmitt Bf 109 of the Luftwaffe, although the Museum’s aircraft are slightly younger than those that participated in Operation Dynamo.

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Supermarine Spitfire HF.Mk.VII In Flight
Mon, May 15 2017

Setting Commercial Air Routes with the Lindberghs

When Charles Lindbergh was asked by Pan American Airlines to conduct survey flights, there was no doubt in his mind who would be his copilot: his wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh. In 1931 and 1933, Charles and Anne set off to determine where air routes and airports might be located. Anne learned Morse code and how to operate radios for the flight. She became so talented at this work that she won awards for distance flights and radio operation.   Today, when you fly to Europe you’re still using some of the same routes that Charles and Anne surveyed.  

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Anne Lindbergh
Wed, May 10 2017

Miracle on the Hudson: A Conversation That Changed How I Fly

As the host of a STEM in 30, a TV show for middle school students from the National Air and Space Museum, I’ve been able to do some amazing things. I’ve flown in a helicopter with no doors, rode in a hot air balloon, and I’ve interviewed some amazing people from astronauts to engineers. Recently, however, I experienced one of the most powerful interviews I have ev

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Interview With Miracle on the Hudson Passenger
Mon, May 1 2017

Ford’s Flying Machine

The Ford Tri-Motor was the first practical airliner in the U.S. True to its name, the aircraft had three engines. If one engine broke down, the airplane still had two engines to continue flying. The Ford Tri-Motor made air travel popular, showing the public that air travel was safe and reliable.

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Close-Up Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor
Mon, March 27 2017

Building the First Operational Jet Fighter

The Messerschmitt 262 was the first operational jet fighter introduced by Nazi Germany during World War II. It was more than 100 miles per hour faster than any other Allied fighter aircraft. Despite this, the Messerschmitt 262 faced problems. There were not enough resources to build the aaircraft and competition with other manufacturers was steep.  Nazi Germany turned to forced labor to build the Messerschmitt 262. An example of this was at the Gusen II concentration camp, where prisoners built the fuselages for the aircraft. Gusen II was known as the “Hell of Hell,” and records estimate that 8,000 to 20,000 people died there.  Although 1,443 aircraft were completed, it is estimated that only about 300 saw combat. The Messerschmitt 262 was introduced too late in the war to compete against the Allies.

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Messerschmitt Me 262
Wed, March 22 2017

Wiley Post's Long-Distance Records in the Winnie Mae

Wiley Post set a number of records in the Winnie Mae, a Lockheed Vega. He and his navigator flew around the world in eight days. Then, he took the same trip by himself and took seven days. Post also worked with BFGoodrich to develop the world’s first pressure suit in order to fly above 50,000 feet and set more records.

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Wiley Post's Long-Distance Records in the Winnie Mae

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Lockheed Vega 5C Winnie Mae - Time and Navigation
Wed, March 15 2017

The Dawn Patrol: 1930 WWI Film Features Museum Aircraft

Howard Hawks directed a film in 1930 whose influence can be seen in virtually every military aviation movie made since it premiered. The Dawn Patrol, with its dramatic aerial combat scenes and heroic and tragic pilot figures, is the father of all military aviation films. We will be screening The Dawn Patrol and providing commentary on March 17 as part of our Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen, film series.

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The Dawn Patrol: 1930 WWI Film Features Museum Aircraft
Thu, February 9 2017

The World’s First Jumbo Jet

The Boeing 747 is one of the most significant airliners in history. The airliner popularized air travel and ushered in a new era of affordable airfare. In the early 1970s many of 747s were outfitted with extravagant amenities like bars, piano lounges, and even spiral staircases. The economic reality of such amenities eventually hit the airlines. They realized they could make a lot more money by replacing lounges with seats. 

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Pan American Boeing Model 747-121
Tue, December 27 2016

Becoming a SR-71 Blackbird Pilot

How did you become a pilot for the SR-71 Blackbird? Buzz Carpenter knows. He started flying the SR-71 in 1975 after a week-long interview process that included an astronaut physical. Buzz shares what it was like becoming a Blackbird pilot, how pilots used their 580-degree windows to heat up their lunches, and how the aircraft got the nickname Habu.  

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Cockpit of the Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird at the Udvar-Hazy Center

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