In the years before the invention of the flight data recorder, the "black box" that records essential flight data, an aircraft accident investigation could occasionally degenerate into a mere finger-pointing exercise, like this one from Russia during World War I — a group of aviation cadets at the Gatchina Military Flying School near Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) point fingers of scorn at a student pilot identified only as "Ivanov" after his less than perfect landing, fortunately injuring only his dignity.
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.
The relationship between film, history, and mass culture is especially intriguing when we examine the correspondences between the representation of pilot-heroes in film and public perceptions of aviation. These connections are applicable during the heyday of the aviation genre film—the interwar years and WWII.
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.
At the National Air and Space Museum, we tell stories in a number of ways — through objects, artwork, lectures, videos, planetarium shows — even puppets. Storytelling through puppetry can be a powerful educational tool for our youngest audiences in particular.
For those of us who study the very early history of the airplane, the sight and sound of a World War I rotary engine running is a thrill that leaves a lasting impression. To fly in a rotary powered World War I airplane is a transformative experience. A few weeks ago I was transformed. I had...
During the recently completed centennial of naval aviation (2011), there were many and varied tributes to the factual history of naval aviation. Nevertheless, we cannot forget that public perception of the armed forces is also a strong historical consideration.
Twenty-five years ago, the staff of the National Air and Space Museum held its collective breath for nine days as a seemingly fragile, flying fuel tank made its way across oceans and continents in an attempt to become the first aircraft to fly around the world non-stop and unrefueled.