Ariel Tweto is a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, but getting her blood pumping isn’t the only reason she flies. Last month, Tweto flew for a purpose — to raise awareness about aviation — as she participated in her first air race, the Air Race Classic.
On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I, setting America on a course to become an important player on the world stage. It was a turning point in the nation’s history that still reverberates through world events a century later. The Museum’s centerpiece presentation in observance of the 100th anniversary of World War I is Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World War, a new exhibition in the Museum’s Flight in the Arts gallery. A collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the exhibition features largely never-before-seen artwork, produced by soldiers, that sheds light on World War I in a compelling and very human way.
The latest film in our Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen film series the story of the American Expeditionary Force’s arrival in France in World War I. Based on the real-life exploits of New York City’s 69th Infantry Regiment, The Fighting 69th features several real-life characters.
In the 1980s, the Soviet Union and United States held a number of summits to come to terms with the two country’s growing nuclear arsenals. The country’s leaders, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, got to know each other during these sessions and developed a personal rapport. Reagan’s charisma and personal warmth enabled him to disarm Gorbachev who was more formal and reserved. Because of their relationship, the two world leaders were more willing to have conversations and negotiate leading to the INF Treaty. The treaty mandated the removal of a specific class of intermediate-range ballistic missiles from each country’s active inventories. That historic treaty foreshadowed the end of the Cold War.
You may know of the first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova) or the second (Svetlana Savitskaya). But do you know the name and the story of the third female cosmonaut? Elena Kondakova may have not been the first woman in space, but she was the first woman to enter the cosmonaut team-in-training program with male classmates. She set the precedent of mixed-gendered selections that exists in Russia today.
The Messerschmitt 262 was the first operational jet fighter introduced by Nazi Germany during World War II. It was more than 100 miles per hour faster than any other Allied fighter aircraft. Despite this, the Messerschmitt 262 faced problems. There were not enough resources to build the aaircraft and competition with other manufacturers was steep.
Nazi Germany turned to forced labor to build the Messerschmitt 262. An example of this was at the Gusen II concentration camp, where prisoners built the fuselages for the aircraft. Gusen II was known as the “Hell of Hell,” and records estimate that 8,000 to 20,000 people died there.
Although 1,443 aircraft were completed, it is estimated that only about 300 saw combat. The Messerschmitt 262 was introduced too late in the war to compete against the Allies.
Before humans flew into space, dogs, chimpanzees, and flight-test dummies led the way. Ivan Ivanovich, who flew in the Soviet Korabl-Sputnik program in the early 1960s, was one such dummy. In a heady atmosphere of Cold War tension, Soviet secrecy, and uncertainty about the dawning space age, garbled retellings of Ivan's extraordinary story helped foster one of the most tenacious Space Age conspiracy theories: The Lost Cosmonaut Theory.
Wiley Post set a number of records in the Winnie Mae, a Lockheed Vega. He and his navigator flew around the world in eight days. Then, he took the same trip by himself and took seven days. Post also worked with BFGoodrich to develop the world’s first pressure suit in order to fly above 50,000 feet and set more records.