US Military Aviation
“The Battle of Midway was probably the most important battle in the Pacific war during World War II,” says Russell Lee, a curator in the aeronautics division at the National Air and Space Museum. “On that day, American carrier forces defeated the Japanese, and stopped permanently their westward expansion.” Prior to the battle, Japan possessed [...]
July 14, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
Military aviation prepares for the inevitable.
July 2011 | By Michael Milstein
“One of the interesting things about airships,” says Tom Crouch, a senior curator at the National Air and Space Museum, who gave a lecture on the subject this week as part of the Museum’s Ask an Expert series, is that they were “transitional technology. They were capable of doing a great many things before airplanes [...]
June 17, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at this video of the Martin Aircraft Company’s recent mile-high test of its personal jetpack and safety parachute system. The flight topped out at 5,000 feet, but could have gone higher. While a dummy was on board for this test, the New Zealand-based company is marketing [...]
June 13, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
In 1966, Second Lieutenant Larry Liss was on the Czech-German border during a snowstorm, freezing his varlata off, when he saw something beautiful. It was a Bell UH-1 helicopter, still on the ground. The pilot—who was wearing short sleeves and drinking a cup of coffee—took one look at Liss and shook his head. “He said, [...]
May 31, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
Since 1963, hundreds of artists (and musicians, poets—even one fashion designer) have interpreted NASA’s aeronautic and space projects. The artists were given carte blanche to create what they wanted, in any medium, on any subject. In celebration of NASA’s 50th anniversary in 2008, more than 70 diverse artworks from the program began touring the country [...]
May 27, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
Whether it's a single letter or a 100-foot greeting, aircraft carrier crews stand ready to spell it out.
May 27, 2011 | By Roger Mola
During World War II, the Smithsonian Institution aided the war effort in many different ways. An “Ethnogeographic Board” was established to act as a clearinghouse for government wartime needs, and one of their major undertakings was the “Survival Project,” requested by the U.S. Navy. Smithsonian historian Pamela Henson writes in “The Smithsonian Goes to War: [...]
May 24, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
The “glass cockpit,” named for the new generation of flat panel, liquid crystal displays (LCDs), is commonplace now in all types of aircraft from the Cessna to the space shuttle. LCD technology began to appear in earnest in the 1990s. Today, with the continued price plunge of electronic displays, the perforated instrument panel, like that [...]
May 20, 2011 | By Mike Klesius
From bomb-bearing balloons to the Global Hawk.
May 18, 2011 | By Ed Darack
In the history of aviation, there were ideas that didn’t quite work out. Take the Avro VZ-9-AV Avrocar, one of ten odd aircraft profiled in the Smithsonian Channel film “Unbelievable Flying Objects.” (It’s number 5). The U.S. Air Force became interested in the Avrocar as an early “stealth” aircraft that could hover beneath radar, then [...]
May 17, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
Plenty of buzz going around about the mysterious stealth chopper left behind by U.S. Navy SEALs after they shot and killed Osama bin Laden last Monday morning, local time, in Pakistan.Having suffered technical problems and a hard landing, the helo apparently couldn't fly back out of bin Laden's com...
May 06, 2011 | By Mike Klesius
Mission: Cuba. Status: Top secret.
May 2011 | By James Storie
It's summer 2005. In Afghanistan, a four-man U.S. Navy SEAL team has been ambushed by the Taliban. A Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter is immediately sent to extract them, but as it approaches the rescue site, the Taliban fire a rocket-propelled grenade, hitting the Chinook's fuel tanks. All 16 crew ...
April 27, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
On March 23, 1944, a British Lancaster bomber over Germany's Ruhr River took heavy flak and exploded. As his oxygen mask and goggles began to melt, and his flight suit burned, tail gunner Nick Alkemade heard the pilot ordering the crew to bail out.The aircraft was at 18,000 feet, and while Alkemade...
April 26, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
Admit it: Sometimes you want to skip all the technical hoo-hah and get straight to the jokes. For your enjoyment, today we're resurrecting a bit of aircraft maintenance humor that has been roaming the Internet since 1997, and circulating on hard copies before that. The jokes have been attributed to...
April 21, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
Before the Japanese air attack on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, less than one percent of all workers in American aeronautical factories were female. Just two years later, more than 475,000 women would help to manufacture aircraft for the war effort. Another 350,000 would ...
April 08, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
That's what they're doing at the Royal Air Force's Brize Norton base as an adjunct to regular jump training.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nr81ZG-tXQU
April 01, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
How B-29 crews trained to drop the bomb.
March 2011 | By Carl Posey
The new, supersonic face of e-warfare.
March 2011 | By D.C. Agle