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Civilian

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Thu, March 24 2016

A Message to You from Uncle Sam’s First Propaganda Balloon

Our Archives houses the Technical Reference Files, an important collection of aeronautical and astronautical topics comprised of 1,920 cubic feet of documents, photographs, and ephemera. This important resource is housed in vertical files and is an organic, growing collection to which material is added constantly. Recently, we came across a remarkable document in the Tech Files of the long fight against tuberculosis—shared with you today in recognition of World Tuberculosis Day.

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American Balloon Service Flyer
Tue, April 14 2015

Where’s My Flying Car?

The phrase is really shorthand for a deeper question, namely, what happened to the optimistic predictions for air and space travel after the historic Apollo landings on the Moon, between 1969 and 1972? Why, after 45 years, are there no permanent colonies on the Moon?

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Fulton Airphibian FA-3-101
Thu, March 28 2013

Fly Ball!

On April 1, the 2013 Major League Baseball season begins.  The National Air and Space Museum’s hometown Washington Nationals begin their season at home.  My beloved Baltimore Orioles, however, begin their season on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida.  Like most teams, they will take a chartered airplane to their destination.

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New York Yankees Baseball Team
Thu, May 24 2012

The Desegregation of Airports in the American South

Many older African Americans who grew up in the South painfully remember the time when black passengers had to sit in the back of busses or use separate train compartments; and when train stations and bus terminals provided separate but mostly unequal facilities such as drinking fountains, restrooms, waiting lounges, and eating facilities for black and white passengers.

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Segregated Montgomery Airport
Wed, June 16 2010

Become a Pilot Day

What does it take to organize a fly-in at the National Air and Space Museum?  Lots of time and lots of good friends!  As we head into our sixth year of Become a Pilot Day, it’s a great time to look back at how it all started and where we go from here. As a pilot myself, the idea of a fly-in was a no-brainer. 

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Become a Pilot Family Day at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Tue, June 2 2009

Selecting the Astroland Star

A Smithsonian Institution curator whom I greatly admire once said that collecting objects for a museum is a bit like standing next to a river with a bucket.  The curator’s task is to gather examples that explain what is important about something (in this analogy, a river), but the curator can only take what fits in the bucket.  How do you capture the essence of something large and complex with a sample that is small enough to be preserved and displayed?

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Astroland Entrance Sign

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