La Grande Illusion is widely regarded as a masterpiece of French cinema and is often cited as one of the greatest films ever made. The story explores class relationships among a small group of French soldiers who are prisoners of war during World War I (WWI) and are plotting to escape.
The Museum’s annual Air & Scare event is taking place this Saturday at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. In the spirit of disguises, costumes, and just plain scary stuff, I thought I would share some examples from the history of military aviation where things were not as they seemed.
Starting just 11 years after the invention of powered flight, the Great War was the first major conflict in which pilots and airplanes were involved, experiencing their baptism by fire. At the beginning of the war, military applications of the new technology were barely known. At the end of the war, there was a vast array of fighter planes, reconnaissance planes, and bombers. Dogfighting tactics and bombing strategies had been developed, with weapons and armaments now essential elements in military aircraft.
Most of the thousands of World War I photographs in the collections of the Air and Space Museum’s Archives Department are grimly utilitarian – aerial views of trenches, aircraft and details of their construction and the damage they sustained during dangerous missions. But the young pilots who flew those missions had a reputation for light-heartedness, and found their fun wherever and whenever they could.
As previously discussed in Spiral Threads of Corrosion Overtake an Antenna Drive, a one-year conservation triage project is underway to deal with artifacts that are actively deteriorating and require stabilizing treatments prior to being permanently relocated to the new storage facility at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. These artifacts include a wide range of issues to be dealt with by a team of three contract conservators, including active corrosion, mold contamination, pest management, hazardous materials, and physical insecurities.
For those of us who study the very early history of the airplane, the sight and sound of a World War I rotary engine running is a thrill that leaves a lasting impression. To fly in a rotary powered World War I airplane is a transformative experience. A few weeks ago I was transformed. I had...
If you're still stumped over what your costume will be for next Saturday's big Air & Scare at the Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center (October 29 from 2 - 8 pm), the photograph shown above, from the July 1918 issue of Die Luftflotte, might provide some inspiration.
July 21, 2011, marks the ninetieth anniversary of the sinking of the captured German battleship Ostfriesland by the First Provisional Air Brigade of the U.S. Army Air Service. This unit was commanded by Brig. General William “Billy” Mitchell, one of the most controversial figures in the history of air power in the United States.