Aviation ErasPeriods of innovation in the history of aviation from early flight to the modern age
The Transportation Security Administration has finally faced the naked truth. After the agency’s advanced imaging technology (AIT) airport scanners stirred controversy by exposing too much of a passenger’s human form, the TSA will switch to new software that makes the images less realistic. Screening agents—who had been isolated in a remote closet to view the [...]
July 25, 2011 | By Roger Mola
Today I read, with some head-scratching, about Burt Rutan’s latest creation, a “roadable aircraft” called Bipod. Flying cars have been built, flown, driven, and failed to sell since dinosaurs roamed the earth, yet here was the monumentally gifted designer and his company, Scaled Composites, introducing a particularly homely vehicle (twin fuselages simply make it twice [...]
July 19, 2011 | By Pat Trenner
Escalating baggage fees. No more in-flight meals. Delayed flights. Loud cell-phone talkers. And let’s not forget the drunks. It may be that intoxicated passengers are the most dangerous of all. AvWeb recently reported that drunk passengers caused the crash of a Cessna 185 in 2010. (“The [Transportation Safety Board] postulates that a rear-seat passenger pushed [...]
July 14, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
“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
A new book documents the glory of World War II aircraft.
July 13, 2011 | By John R. Bruning
Quick: What’s the strangest way to deliver mail that you can think of? By mule? On foot? By ship? By airplane? How about by missile? That’s right. More than one person thought delivering packages by rocket was an excellent idea. Our neighbor, the National Postal Museum, notes that Austria and Germany were the first countries [...]
July 01, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
Donald Hall's 1927 rush job.
July 2011 | By Tom Leech
From Minnesota cratemakers, a new CG-4 glider like the ones they built in World War II.
July 2011 | By Lynn Keillor
How we turned the A3D into a tanker.
July 2011 | By Hadley Dixon
Neighbors, families, and friends watched the skies for enemy bombers.
July 2011 | By Mark Wolverton
In more innocent times, it was okay to buzz the Capitol.
July 01, 2011 | By Roger Mola
With a sunny and hopefully unmistakable new design for its flight attendant call button, Boeing illuminated passengers on which button to press but in the dark as to when to press it at all
June 27, 2011 | By Roger Mola
How did he ever pass flight school, much less become a top gun pilot? I’m talking about the mascot from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, of course. That’s right, the insane polar bear that hijacks an F-16 and rockets into space before each of the team’s hockey games (video below). Consider the facts: An [...]
June 23, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
Gene Breiner got a little choked up when he handed over his 1929 Fleet Model 2 to the National Air and Space Museum at “Become a Pilot” Day on Saturday. He dedicated it to “all the people who learned to fly in her, and all the people I took for their first and last airplane [...]
June 20, 2011 | By Linda Shiner
“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
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
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
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
She thought she'd like to fly again. And so she flew. Helene Dax, 87, a former pilot, had filled out a survey form at the Brookdale Senior Living center where she lives in Denver. Brookdale, which caters to people challenged with Alzheimer's and dementia, and Jeremy Bloom's Wish of a Lifetime found...
May 16, 2011 | By Mike Klesius