Since the earliest days of flight, air racing has been an exciting motorsports activity. We have in our collection many of the aircraft that made history by winning races and setting records, like Steve Wittman’s Special 20 Buster, which lived two lives in air racing and proved to be an inspiration for an entire class of air racers.
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.
The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the “Escadrille Américaine” or the Lafayette Escadrille. Created on December 6, 1916, the Escadrille (or “squadron”) holds a unique place both in the history of World War I (1914-1918) and in the history of aviation overall. Most notably, the Escadrille was composed of American volunteers who chose to fight for France a year before the United States’ official entry into the Great War in April 1917.
Working on the Museum’s Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall gave us a unique opportunity to take a close look at many of the objects that have been on display since the gallery opened in 1976. The renovation of the gallery also allowed our photographers a rare opportunity to capture some very unique views of our aircraft, inside and out. This close inspection helped us uncover and rediscover interesting stories and facts. This is true of the Spirit of St. Louis, the aircraft that Charles Lindbergh famously piloted across the Atlantic.
In this video, created for the Smithsonian's TechQuest: Flying Circus alternate reality game, aerobatic champion Sean D. Tucker demonstrates how to perform tricks like a spin, an inside loop, and outside loop in his aircraft.
Bob Hoover passed away yesterday, after a lifetime of adventures rivaling any work of fact or fiction. Bob was an aviation legend, a role-model to generations of pilots, a friend to this Museum, and a gentleman to all who knew him. With the rest of the aviation community, we mourn the passing of the man Jimmy Doolittle called “the greatest stick and rudder man who ever lived.” In the coming days, people all over the world will celebrate his life by trading their favorite Bob Hoover stories. My favorite Bob Hoover story goes like this...
We have lost a great man and a legendary pilot. All the superlatives apply. For those not of the aviation world, it is hard to describe how much Robert A. “Bob” Hoover meant to us and how much he loved us in return.This biography will help explain his place in history but, most of all, day after day, Bob Hoover was a true gentleman.
The Museum recently added the Insitu ScanEagle X200 unmanned aircraft system (UAS), or drone, to its collection. This ScanEagle, currently on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, served in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) demonstrations from 2013 to 2015 to integrate UAS into the U.S. National Airspace System. It performed ice floe monitoring missions in northern Alaska and beyond visual line of sight validation flights, including railroad track inspection in New Mexico. ScanEagle was the first drone to receive an FAA restricted category type certificate.
Earlier this year, our collections staff at the Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Virginia, moved the Nakajima Kikka from beneath the wing of the Sikorsky JRS flying boat in the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar and out onto the floor beneath the Boeing B-29 Enola Gay. Moving the Kikka provides an opportunity to bring visitors closer to the last known example of a World War II Japanese jet aircraft and the only Japanese jet to takeoff under its own power—it also opened up space in the Hangar so that our team could install netting to deter birds.
The Museum is proud to have the Ilyushin Il-2 in its collections, as one of the few large artifacts in the Museum's possession associated with the Soviet Air Force in World War II. Once on exhibition, the plane will close a large void in the Museum’s presentation. But before the Shturmovik can enter the workshop, we have to learn as much as possible about the aircraft and its history.
At the Museum’s Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility, a unique aircraft is waiting for restoration: the Soviet Ilyushin Il-2. Barely known in the West, the Il-2 Shturmovik played an essential role in defeating the Nazi...