Women in the United States have long served their country and women aviators have been no exception. Perhaps the best known efforts are those of the Women Air Service Pilots (WASP), formed in 1943, merging the Women’s Auxiliary Flying Squadron and Women’s Flying Training Detachment. But before the WASP, women pilots, such as Ruth Law, Opal Kunz, Florence “Pancho” Barnes, and Mary Charles were determined to serve their country in whatever way they could.
We are pleased to announce that the Sally K. Ride Papers, consisting of over 23 cubic feet (38,640 pages!) of archival material chronicling Ride’s career from the 1970s through the 2010s, have been fully scanned and are available digitally. Air and Space fans can help make them more accessible by transcribing them in the Smithsonian Transcription Center.
Alfred "Al" Worden, command module pilot on Apollo 15, passed away on March 18, 2020. We mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Al, an aviator, engineer, and storyteller. From the halls of West Point to the far side of the Moon, the legacy of history’s first deep-space walker continues to inspire.
Julius Montgomery, a pioneering African American in the space program, died on January 22, 2020, in Florida. He was the first African American ever hired at the Cape Canaveral space facility to work as a technical professional. Additionally, he integrated the Florida Institute of Technology and was the first black member of the Melbourne, Florida, City Council.
The new film The Aeronauts truly captures the excitement of ballooning in the 19th century, even if it makes a few historical errors along the way. Ballooning expert Tom Paone explores the history behind the film.
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.