Cyrus K. Bettis was a leading US Army Air Service pilot in the 1920s that became the world’s fastest air racer in 1925. In July 2018, members of his family visited the Museum to donate artifacts and archival materials documenting his life near the airplane that he flew and the prizes that he won.
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.
As the host of a STEM in 30, a TV show for middle school students from the National Air and Space Museum, I’ve been able to do some amazing things. I’ve flown in a helicopter with no doors, rode in a hot air balloon, and I’ve interviewed some amazing people from astronauts to engineers. Recently, however, I experienced one of the most powerful interviews I have ev
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.
Hell’s Angels, along with Wings and The Dawn Patrol, is considered one of the three great early aviation films that defined the genre. The movie featured authentic aerial combat scenes, innovative camera work, and incredible miniature effects. Upwards of 50 aircraft, nearly half actual World War I airplanes, were assembled for the production, and some 75 pilots were employed to fly the aerial sequences and pilot the camera planes.
The latest film in our Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen film series the story of the American Expeditionary Force’s arrival in France in World War I. Based on the real-life exploits of New York City’s 69th Infantry Regiment, The Fighting 69th features several real-life characters.
Howard Hawks directed a film in 1930 whose influence can be seen in virtually every military aviation movie made since it premiered. The Dawn Patrol, with its dramatic aerial combat scenes and heroic and tragic pilot figures, is the father of all military aviation films. We will be screening The Dawn Patrol and providing commentary on March 17 as part of our Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen, film series.