The Museum is fortunate that among our corps of docents, or guides, are people with direct experience flying or flying in a number of our aircraft. Among those docents are Buz Carpenter and Phil Soucy who know what its like to sit inside one of the world's fastest aircrafts, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
Did you know Earhart created a clothing line called “Amelia Fashions” in 1933? Earhart had been interested in flying apparel for women for years. At the beginning of her career, Earhart had to wear aviation suits that were designed for men and poorly fitted for a woman. There was nothing else available.
This Bastille Day, we take time to recognize some of the most colorful personalities in early French flight including Jules Védrines who was known as a rough-and-tumble, foul-mouthed, and unpredictable aviator and Hubert Latham who once declared to the French president that he was "a man of the world."
Through the history of aviation, pilots have worn many types of helmets. Exhibits at the National Air and Space Museum range from Paul Studenski's 1912 era leather flying helmet, to Apollo Soucek's furry helmet, to Mike Melvill's SpaceShipOne helmet. Today, however, in honor of Super Bowl 50, we will remember Robert "Bob" Eucker's football helmet.
On September 24, 1959, President Eisenhower declared December 17 to be Wright Brothers Day—thus commemorating the anniversary of the legendary duo’s flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903. In honor of Wright Brothers Day, Smithsonian Libraries and the National Air and Space Museum turn to a piece of history found in the special collections housed in the DeWitt Clinton Ramsey Room of the Museum’s library.
From witches to winged demons, humanity has long harbored a horror of airborne denizens. Even when we ventured forth into the heavens without supernatural support, we sometimes adopted some truly terrifying attire.
I recently attended a screening of Bridge of Spies, a new movie directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks. Purportedly, Bridge of Spies was inspired by events surrounding the 1962 exchange of U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers and graduate student Frederick Pryor for Soviet spy Rudolph Abel. The movie event was sponsored by Virginia’s Cold War Museum which was co-founded by Francis Gary Powers, Jr., who was also in attendance and served on a Q&A panel after the film.