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Aircraft

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Wed, October 17 2012

The Curious Story of a Cuban Missile Crisis Artifact

On Monday morning, October 15, 1962, CIA photo interpreters (PIs) hovered anxiously over a light table at the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC).

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U-2 Photo of Missile Launch Sites in Cuba
Fri, October 12 2012

Fighters, Warbirds, and Racers

The high-flying long-range North American P-51 Mustang escort fighter was a war-winning weapon for the United States and its Allies during World War II. As American Mustang pilots protected bombers and pursued their enemies in the air over Europe and the Pacific, they earned a place for themselves and their airplane in the annals of military and aviation history. The availability of surplus Mustangs and other fighters such as the Corsair, Bearcat, Airacobra, and Lightning after World War II and into the 1950s helped create what we call the “warbird” community today.

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North American P-51 Mustang
Fri, July 13 2012

Preserving and Displaying the “Bat-Wing Ship” - July Update

This post is a follow up to Preserving and Displaying the “Bat-Wing Ship” published on September 9, 2011.This post is a follow up to Preserving and Displaying the “Bat-Wing Ship” published on September 9, 2011.

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Center Section of the Horten H IX V3
Wed, May 30 2012

Hypersonic Flight

The day is Thursday, February 24, 1949; the pens on the automatic plotting boards at South Station are busy tracking the altitude and course of a rocket, which just moments before had been launched from a site three miles away on the test range of the White Sands Proving Ground.

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NASA X-43A Scramjet
Thu, April 26 2012

How Kites Fly

Recently the National Air and Space Museum hosted Kites of Asia Family Day. 

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How Kites Fly
Tue, March 20 2012

Vought Aircraft Heritage Foundation Retirees Finish Vought V-173 "Flying Pancake" Following 8-Year Restoration Effort

On February 10, 2012, retired Vought employees officially rolled out the one-of-a-kind Vought V-173 Flying Pancake, following eight years of painstaking restoration work.  The Flying Pancake dates to World War II when the Chance Vought Division of the United Aircraft Corporation built and flew the airplane to test Charles H. Zimmerman’s theories about extremely low-aspect ratio wing design that allowed an aircraft to fly at very slow speeds. 

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Vought V-173 Flying Pancake
Sun, February 5 2012

Blimp!

The newest arrival in the National Air and Space Museum’s inventory of historic aircraft is the C-49 airship control car. Produced by Goodyear Tire and Rubber, it first took to the air as the pressure airship  Enterprise (NC-16A) on August 23, 1934. The craft operated in the Washington, D.C. and New York metropolitan areas until November 1941, when it was flown back to Wingfoot Lake, Akron, Ohio to serve as a training craft. Early in WW II it patrolled northern Ohio checking on compliance with blackout regulations.

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C-49 Car
Sat, December 24 2011

The Santa Claus Express, Then and Now

In 1925, Mr. S. Claus was looking for a modern alternative to his old-fashioned reindeer-powered sleigh. Having once shown an interest in lighter-than-air flight in the form of hot-air balloons, Santa was favorably inclined when Goodyear came up with a solution — toy delivery via airship, in this case, Pilgrim I, renamed the Santa Claus Express for the occasion.

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Santa Claus
Sat, December 17 2011

WINGS: From the Wright Brothers to the Present

Airplane designers will tell you that the wing is the heart of an airplane. For conventional airplanes, it provides most of the lift generated by the airplane; the fuselage and tail contribute only a few percent of the overall lift of the airplane.

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Otto Lilienthal
Fri, December 2 2011

Above Water

When the floods in Thailand appeared in the news recently, my friends and colleagues recommended that I stay away.  But how could I?  It was only a 4.5 hour flight from China (where I would be attending the Lishui International Photography Festival November 5 - 9) and photographing the Bangkok (BKK) air traffic control tower at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport was a high priority on my “to do” list.  Actually, the highest.  It is the tallest freestanding air traffic control tower in the world at 132.2 meters (434 feet) and a major tower to include in my upcoming book and Smithsonian exhibition The Art of the Airport Tower.

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BKK Air Traffic Control Tower

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