I seek all information relevant to the Curtiss P-40 used by the French forces between November 1942 and 1948.
There are certain queries the archives can't answer. "We're not the FAA, we can't certify your aircraft," explains Nicklas. And concerning the overwhelming number of requests for Japanese and German aircraft specifications, Nicklas sighs, "Just because we won the war doesn't mean we have the blueprints."
Regarding the Spirit of St. Louis: Does the inside of the starboard side cowling bear the names of the Ryan Monoplane Company workers that built the Spirit of St. Louis, including a paw print of the dog that lived at the factory?
With an annual budget of $14,000, the archives isn't a money-making project: "What little we charge goes to buy proper conservation supplies," says Graskowiak. Each time someone requests a duplicate of a microfilm reel, for instance, the $30 processing fee helps to offset the cost of remastering unstable micofilm onto stable polyester film stock.
What's the origin of the term "touch-and-go" as used in aircraft landing and takeoff practice?
The archives has its regulars. "Mr. Dumas has been writing to us, from France, every month—for years now," says Nicklas. "We sometimes wonder what he's doing. He might be starting his own museum."
It's not such a far-fetched idea. Each written response to a query is a small gem, highlighting the knowledge of the archivists and volunteers who staff the division.
Questions and Responses from NASM Staff
On May 22, 1963, my family flew on a commercial flight from Joplin, Missouri, to Chicago, Illinois, with stops at Springfield MO, St. Louis MO, and Springfield IL. Is there any way that you can find out the airline on which we flew, the type of aircraft on which we flew, our departure time in Joplin, and our arrival time in Chicago?
You would have flown with Ozark Air Lines, a local service carrier based in St. Louis, MO. At the time Ozark flew Fairchild F-27 turboprop airliners, and Convair 240 piston-engine airliners. There were two flights a day from Joplin, one in the early morning (Flight Number 750) and another later in the afternoon (Flight Number 754). Here are the schedules for each flight:
Departure from Joplin 6.00 am 3.00 pm
Arrive at Springfield, MO 6.23 am 3.23 pm
Depart Springfield, MO 6.30 am 3.30 pm
Arrive at St. Louis 8.25 am 5.25 pm
Depart St. Louis 8.55 am 5.50 pm
Arrive at Springfield, IL 9.25 am 6.20 pm
Depart Springfield, IL 9.35 am 6.30 pm
Arrive Chicago (O’Hare) 10.30 am 7.25 pm
We cannot tell which aircraft type was used, as the F-27 and Convairs were used interchangeably, but perhaps you will remember if you look at the attached images. The F-27 had a high-wing and its Rolls-Royce Dart engines would have made a high-pitched whining sound. You would have liked looking out of the windows, as the view would not have been obstructed by the wing. The Convair had piston engines, and was altogether noisier; you would have seen the big engines rather than the view, as the airliner had low wings.
We need an image of a pilot, or a pilot-like man. Might you have any photographs?
The Archives collection contains nearly two million photographs. To learn more about the extensive photo collection, see this website: http://www.nasm.si.edu/research/arch/collections/photoarchives.cfm.