The Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery, home of the Lindberghs, Earhart, Doolittle, and Piper, among many other pioneers, closes on October 7 as part of the transformation of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, but it will be back in 2022. We explore the many versions of Pioneers of Flight.
This summer, visitors had a unique opportunity to see the transformation of American commercial aviation on the floor of the Mary Engen Restoration Hangar: the Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor, the Boeing 247-D, and the Douglas DC-3
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.
As the summer comes to an end, it’s time for many to go back to school. Most students have mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation at the thought of returning. Imagine how the students at the earliest aviation schools felt!
Before Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon and before he flew on Gemini 8, he was a NASA test pilot. Noted for his engineering excellence and technical capability as a pilot, Armstrong became one of only 12 pilots to fly the ultimate experimental aircraft – the North American X-15.
Only two survived the crash of the Wingfoot Express—Henry Wacker, the chief mechanic, and John Boettner, the pilot. They became known as members one and two of the Caterpillar Club, an organization formed in November 1922 consisting of people who had used parachutes to make an emergency jump.
In 2019, we commemorate several transatlantic firsts, including the 100th anniversaries of the first transatlantic flight by the Navy NC-4 in May and the first nonstop transatlantic flight by John Alcock and Arthur Brown. June 28 marks the 80th anniversary of the inaugural Pan American Airways transatlantic passenger flight in 1939. For William John Eck, it was a voyage for which he had waited eight long years. Finally, he was “Passenger Number One”!