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Aviators

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Wed, May 21 2014

Where’s the “R”?

This, the 87th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s epic solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1927, gives us an opportunity to revisit the diminutive Ryan airplane that carried the twentieth century’s best known aviator into history.

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Charles Lindbergh in Spirit of St. Louis
Tue, April 1 2014

Fooling Around at the Front

Most of the thousands of World War I photographs in the collections of the Air and Space Museum’s Archives Department are grimly utilitarian – aerial views of trenches, aircraft and details of their construction and the damage they sustained during dangerous missions. But the young pilots who flew those missions had a reputation for light-heartedness, and found their fun wherever and whenever they could.

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Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal Aviation Troops Fliegerkompagnie 27
Thu, January 2 2014

First Flight?

December 17, 2013, marked the 110th anniversary of the first powered, controlled flight of an airplane. Wilbur Wright had made the first attempt three days before, when the brothers laid their 60 foot launch rail down the lower slope of the Kill Devil Hill...He had set up a camera that morning, pointed at the spot where he thought the airplane would be in the air. When John T. Daniels walked up the beach with three other surf men from the nearby Kill Devil Hills Lifesaving Station, Orville asked him to squeeze the bulb operating the shutter if anything interesting happened. The result was what has arguably become the most famous photograph ever taken. Recently, however, some skeptics have suggested that the image does not depict a real flight at all.

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Wright Brothers First Flight
Fri, October 12 2012

Fighters, Warbirds, and Racers

The high-flying long-range North American P-51 Mustang escort fighter was a war-winning weapon for the United States and its Allies during World War II. As American Mustang pilots protected bombers and pursued their enemies in the air over Europe and the Pacific, they earned a place for themselves and their airplane in the annals of military and aviation history. The availability of surplus Mustangs and other fighters such as the Corsair, Bearcat, Airacobra, and Lightning after World War II and into the 1950s helped create what we call the “warbird” community today.

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North American P-51 Mustang
Wed, August 22 2012

Tuskegee Red Lands at Air and Space!

During World War II, a group of young, enthusiastic and skilled African American men pressed the limits of flight and the boundaries of racial inequality by becoming Army Air Forces pilots. Most of these pilots trained at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama.

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Tuskegee Crape Myrtle
Thu, March 1 2012

The Pilot as Hero in the Aviation Film Genre

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.

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Thu, February 9 2012

Red Tail Stories

I would like to think that I’ve always known the inspirational story of the Tuskegee Airmen—the groundbreaking pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group.

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Tuskegee Airmen with Mae Jemison
Thu, January 5 2012

Hollywood’s Representation of Naval Aviation: Frank W. “Spig” Wead and John Ford’s "The Wings of Eagles" (1957)

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.

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Hollywood’s Representation of Naval Aviation: Frank W. “Spig” Wead and John Ford’s The Wings of Eagles (1957)
Sat, December 17 2011

WINGS: From the Wright Brothers to the Present

Airplane designers will tell you that the wing is the heart of an airplane. For conventional airplanes, it provides most of the lift generated by the airplane; the fuselage and tail contribute only a few percent of the overall lift of the airplane.

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Otto Lilienthal
Sun, October 23 2011

The Tomboy of the Air

Blogs across the Smithsonian will give an inside look at the Institution’s archival collections and practices during a month long blogathon in celebration of October’s American Archives Month. See additional posts from our other participating blogs, as well as related events and resources, on the Smithsonian’s Archives Month website .

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Blanche Stuart Scott

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