In 1896, Ethiopians had turned back an Italian invasion at Adwa (Adowa), serving as an example of a Black-led country’s defiance of Europe. Taking inspiration from Ethiopia’s long history as an independent Black nation, two Black aviators—Hubert Julian and John C. Robinson—were drawn to Ethiopia by the events of 1935.
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.
The Aerobatic Flight exhibition at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Virginia, has a new addition—a film entitled, naturally, Aerobatic Flight! All the excitement of multiple airshows is packed into this lively film through clips of current pilots on the airshow scene and footage of legendary pilots from the dawn of the airshow.
On Sunday, May 10, the United States and many other countries will be celebrating Mother’s Day. Several National Air and Space Museum Archives collections contain photographs of aviators and their mothers. Here are a few.
March is Women’s History month and I recently attended several events that offer snapshots of women, and men, in the aerospace industry. In Dallas, Women In Aviation International (WAI) held its 26th annual conference, in Tucson, Arizona, the Pima Air and Space Museum opened a new exhibit entitled Women In Flight, and Southwest Airlines graduated its 307th class of flight attendants. And there were more moments.