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.
A Cold War era treatment of an earlier conflict, Paths of Glory engages injustice within the ranks during World War I through the efforts of a regimental commander in the French army, played by Kirk Douglas, to stem callous treatment of line troops by the French high command. Built upon class divisions, the film depicts an entrenched establishment that cannot be challenged no matter how irrational or heartless the orders from above.
On May 21, 1937, record-setting pilot and celebrity Amelia Earhart set out to become the first woman to fly around the world. By July 2, she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, had flown more than 35,406 kilometers (22,000 miles). They intended to make three final but long over-water flights across the Pacific Ocean to complete the voyage: from New Guinea to Howland Island, Howland to Hawaii, and Hawaii to San Francisco, California. Instead, they disappeared en route to Howland Island.
You wouldn’t think flying and music go hand in hand, but they do. Luckily for all the music-loving aviators out there, Bella Landauer, a veteran collector whose son was a pilot, began searching for aeronautical-themed sheet music in the early 1920s. Landauer scoured shops, publishing houses, auctions, and other private collections for records and their respective covers, usually illustrated with biplanes or famous pilots like Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart.
What do baseball, hockey, and football have in common? Hint: It’s more than just the roar of the crowd or competitive all-star athletes. Each sporting event has some connection to aviation and spaceflight—yes, spaceflight.
Our intrepid archivist, Elizabeth Borja, has been exploring this connection for years. Whether it’s the testing of spacesuits at a baseball game or the New York Yankees flying on a Douglas DC-4, Borja has uncovered surprising sports stories filed away in the Museum’s Archives. Here are our five, all-time-favorite stories in honor of today’s #MuseumWeek theme: sports (#sportsMW).
Although less well known than Wings, The Dawn Patrol, and Hell’s Angels, The Eagle and the Hawk was one of the best World War I dramas of the 1930s. Based on an original story by John Monk Saunders, who also wrote the original story for Wings, The Eagle and the Hawk focuses on the psychological aspects of wartime aerial combat. It explores the cumulative effects on pilots and crews who fought in the skies during World War I, rather than on the romanticized heroic exploits of fighter pilots.
Until recently, our largest and most-used archival collection, The Technical Reference Files, did not have an online finding aid. As the majority of the Archives Department’s public reference requests (of which we receive over 2,300 a year) can be answered using material in these files, we are delighted to finally enable researchers to search the listings of this valuable collection.
The dangers of ballooning were apparent to aeronauts and the general public. From the early 1800s, attempts to fly over water too often ended in disaster or a narrow escape. Some of the best known aeronauts on both sides of the Atlantic set off across a large body of water never to be seen again. The daring rescue of balloonists from water was a favorite subject with artists and engravers. The vision of a “lost balloon” vanishing over the horizon became a metaphor for the uncertainties of life in the turbulent 19th century.