The Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery, home of the Lindberghs, Earhart, Doolittle, and Piper, among many other pioneers, closes on October 7 as part of the transformation of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, but it will be back in 2022. We explore the many versions of Pioneers of Flight.
Today we’re talking about a really cool project that brought together one former-Mythbuster, a couple of Smithsonian units, and makers across the country to reimagine an incredible piece of Apollo engineering.
Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr. is an appropriate name for a pioneering space explorer. Kraft did not explore space himself, but he made it possible for American astronauts to do so, from Mercury to the Space Shuttle. He was the primary inventor of the mission control concept, and implemented it during Project Mercury and after, including training a cadre of controllers and creating a worldwide tracking network.
Before Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon and before he flew on Gemini 8, he was a NASA test pilot. Noted for his engineering excellence and technical capability as a pilot, Armstrong became one of only 12 pilots to fly the ultimate experimental aircraft – the North American X-15.
Only two survived the crash of the Wingfoot Express—Henry Wacker, the chief mechanic, and John Boettner, the pilot. They became known as members one and two of the Caterpillar Club, an organization formed in November 1922 consisting of people who had used parachutes to make an emergency jump.
From an outsider’s perspective, Lamar Dodd must have seemed like an unlikely choice for a commission to create paintings on the subject of space. Dodd was in the first group recruited for the NASA Art Program, which tasked artists with translating the cultural and scientific monumentality of the space missions to a national audience.