The Legacy of Flight

Images from the archives of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

Otto Lilienthal gliding. (NASM)

National Air Races


The National Air Races were the Indy 500 of the air, the preeminent air racing event in the United States. The multiple-day extravaganza featured numerous aerial events and races, including the Pulitzer Trophy speed race, the main event during the 1920s. Banking around a pylon here at the 1931 Nationals is Johnny Livingston in his clipped-wing Monocoupe 110 Special, an airplane he made famous. One of the Golden Age’s winningest pilots, Livingston rarely placed less than second. He made a lasting impression on a fellow pilot from Iowa, Richard Bach, inspiring him to write the 1970s best-seller Jonathan Livingston Seagull.


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