GIVE A GIFT
Air & Space Magazine
History of Flight
Air & Space Magazine
History of Flight
Travel With Us
History of Flight
History of Flight
The Daily Planet Blog
The Once and Future Moon Blog
History of Flight
After initial throat-clearing, the big radial engine on Michael Kopp’s TBM-3E “Ida Red” growls, as the heavy torpedo bomber, one of only about 40 flying today, taxis out for takeoff last year at Paine Field in Everett, Washington. Kopp also gives a demo of what the Avenger does when it gets back on the aircraft carrier deck.
The Avenger's Transformer Moves
Starting in 1934, the same year it was acquired by Boeing, the Stearman Aircraft Company of Wichita began building a sturdy biplane trainer. By the end of the war more than 10,000 of them had been built, and they introduced novice Army and Navy pilots, including a young George Herbert Walker Bush, to the wonder of flight. More than 1,000 still fly today, and no group has more fun with a Stearman than the Flying Circus in Bealeton, Virginia. This Memorial Day show highlights a few of the hijinks the Stearmans perform.
Everybody’s Favorite Trainer
For the last four years leading to the 2020 end-of-the-war commemorations, warbird restorers and enthusiasts have staged events to mark the 75th anniversaries of momentous World War II battles and actions. The B-25 Mitchell will always be remembered as the aircraft flown by the Doolittle Raiders, and this excerpt shows how the American Airpower Museum paid tribute to that famous group of pilots.
To Honor the Doolittle Raiders
The Bureau of Motion Pictures at the U.S. Office of War Information produced a 10-minute film about the B-17 Flying Fortress in 1942, with the dramatic narration typical of the department’s products during the war. This excerpt opens with footage that appears to have been shot from the ball turret, and watching the airplane’s vertical stabilizer in the frame is mesmerizing. It’s also interesting to learn, as the 10 airmen board, how the crew is organized.
We have only 15 seconds of a lovely Lightning, owned by the Fagen Fighters World War II Museum in Granite Falls, Minnesota, flying over a winter landscape. But during World War II, Japanese or German aircraft would not have wanted to spend 15 seconds this close to a P-38.
P-38 Lightning in Flight
“That’s All, Brother” is justifiably famous as the C-47 that led the invasion of Normandy on D-Day 1944. But in this clip we learn what could have happened to that best known of all Skytroopers, and what did. The airplane was restored, makes appearances at airshows, and participated in the re-enactment marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day last year.
Saved in the Nick of Time
To keep the nation informed of the activities of its air armies, the U.S. Army Air Forces produced short documentaries. This excerpt from The Fight For the Sky: Our fighter pilots versus the Luftwaffe in Western Europe, 1945 focuses on the long-nosed, long-range P-51 Mustang and contains footage that shows off the fighter’s handsome profile.
A Fighter Pilot’s Dream
The fastest bomber of World War II, the Douglas A-26 Invader had a top speed of 355 mph, almost 100 mph faster than the TBM Avenger torpedo bomber flying in formation with it (and 140 mph faster than the Twin Beech that joins them in the air). The video was shot in 2018 at the TBM Avenger Gathering in Peru, Illinois, which drew 11 restored Avengers as well as 15 other warbirds (including the Invader owned by Tim Savage). Those three would almost certainly not have flown together in World War II, but they make a pretty sight over the 10,000-strong audience in a small town in Illinois. (Running time: 1:03)
An A-26 Invades an Avenger Gathering
Considered one of the most appealing fighters ever built, Lockheeds XF-90 enjoys a first-rate reputation with aviation enthusiasts something of a surprise, given that only two were ever built. While researching and writing Lockheeds Missing Link for our June/July 2008 issue, authors Jorge and Karen Escalona compiled rare footage of the XF-90 at Muroc (now Edwards) Air Force Base in California in 1949. The footage, which has no sound, includes scenes of the first XF-90 prototype being trucked to Muroc, and a brief glimpse of engineers attaching ribbonlike strips to the wing to gauge airflow patterns during preflight tests. Also seen are ground crews affixing Jet-Assisted Takeoff (JATO) canisters to the aircraft (to provide additional thrust) before Tony LeVier, Lockheeds chief test pilot, takes it for a spin. The Escalonas write: The XF-90s dashing good looks earned it movie-star status throughout the 1950sfar beyond its operational lifeattracting readers and advertisers to prominent aviation periodicals and comic books of the time. Video: Courtesy Jorge and Karen Escalona
Test Flying the XF-90
The Convair XFY-1 Pogo, the first airplane to accomplish a vertical takeoff, transition to forward flight, and change back to a vertical landing. Video: airspacemag.com
The Pogo Landing
Leonardo da Vinci's Codex on the Flight of Birds will be on view at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC from September 13 through October 22, 2013. The exhibit's curator, Peter Jakab, explains the importance of this rare work.
Codex on the Flight of Birds
In the spring of 1952, the U.S. Defense Nuclear Agency conducted a series of atomic bomb drops and tower shots at the Nevada Proving Ground, code-named Operation Tumbler Snapper. One of Tumbler-Snappers objectives was to see how soldiers and military equipmentincluding one of only two Lockheed XF-90 fighters ever builtreacted to the detonation. Jet aircraft (including the XF-90 and some F-47s) were seen to be less damaged by the atomic blast than were the bombers (a B-45, a B-29, and some B-17s). This excerpt from a contemporary U.S. Air Force documentary about the Tumbler-Snapper program focuses on the airplane testing. Source: Internet Archive/ US Dept. of Energy
In the winter of 1912, Frank Coffyn filmed the first silent motion pictures of New York ever taken from an airplane.Coffyn, a member of the Wright Exhibition Team, equipped the Wright Model B with the first-ever airplane pontoons, and barely missed the ice floes bobbing in New York Harbor as he lifted off. He mounted a camera rigidly between the seats, its view changing as the nose of the airplane moved. Coffyn began with an overflight of the Statue of Liberty and produced the first aerial motion pictures of the monument and Ellis Island. He then passed over the round structure of Fort Jay, a military prison on Governor's Island, and circled to Battery Park at the tip of New York, coordinating his banks and turns by watching the flutter of a length of string tied to the cross wire of his Wright B. For his dramatic final demonstration, Coffyn flew under both the Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridges before landing with the wind at his back for speed and coasting to the dock at Battery Park. The clip ends with footage of Coffyn some 31 years later, as he reminisced about the golden days of the Wright team. Video: National Air and Space Museum
Wright B Over Manhattan, 1912
The Wright exhibition team was performing at an air meet in St. Louis when pilot Arch Hoxsey crossed paths with Teddy Roosevelt on October 11, 1910. At the time, Roosevelt was campaigning for Missouris state Republican party. In this silent clip, Roosevelt initially refuses Hoxseys invitation to fly, but changes his mind. One can only imagine what Roosevelt was thinking as Hoxsey put the biplane into three steep dives, pulling up sharply each time. Video: Library of Congress
Teddy Roosevelt Goes Flying
The title of this Universal release comes from the comic strip of the same name, which was loosely based on the exploits of World War I ace Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, "the inspiration of youthful airmen the world over." The legendary pilot was much in the public eye in the 1930s, having joined Eastern Air Lines in 1934. In this 13-part serial, Drummond is portrayed by big band singer John King, who has an unnerving habit of bursting into song while bystanders look on adoringly. Watch the other chapters of Ace Drummond at the Internet Archive. Internet Archive
Ace Drummond (1936)
Where else in the space of a few hundred square yards could you find the oldest Boeing airplane flying, a 1945 Grumman Widgeon amphibian, a 1956 de Havilland Chipmunk, and a 1929 Hamilton metalplaneall beautifully restored to flying condition? Only at the National Aviation Heritage Invitational at the Reno air races. Here's a preview video of the treasures that will be competing at Reno this year for the title of most accurately restored vintage aircraft. Video: LiveAirshowTV
By 1953, six years after the Bell X-1 first went supersonic, that airplane and others were routinely flying at more than twice the speed of sound. On December 17, 1953the 50th anniversary of the Wright brothers first powered flight at Kitty HawkMajor Yeager sat down at the Pentagon for an informal press briefing to discuss his own Mach 2.43 flight in the X-1 five days earlier. Video: Department of Defense, Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration
Chuck Yeager Press Conference, 1953
In 1945, dummy bombs called "Pumpkins" were released during top-secret tests over the southwestern United States as practice for dropping the first atomic bombs. This rare color footage (the narration has been added) shows a B-29 crew releasing bombs over a bullseye plowed into the arid desert floor at a remote field near the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico.
This sequence from the 1947 Air Force film "Liberators Over Europe" captures some of the B-24's best-known missions.
Liberators Over Europe
In May 1923, McCook Field test pilots John Macready and Oakley Kelly flew from New York to San Diego in a Fokker T-2, setting a new cross-country record: 26 hours, 50 minutes. The narration is from the 1953 film 'The Air Force Story'.
The First Non-Stop Transcontinental Flight
When the U.S. armed services withdrew major support for the Schneider Trophy competition, with only one win to go to retire the cup for the United States, Navy Lt. Alford J. Williams stepped into the breach. Williams had earned the title the Navys fastest flyer by achieving a world record speed of 243.7 mph in the 1923 Pulitzer Trophy air race when he was the Navys chief test pilot and head of high-speed research. Hoping to develop a new racer to retake the trophy that Jimmy Doolittle won in 1925, Williams raised $30,000 to help the Navy build a streamlined Mercury seaplane to compete in 1929. In this video from the National Archives, the Mercury, the first monoplane the United States would enter, taxis on the Chesapeake Bay but does not lift off. According to contemporary news accounts, the aircraft did skim the water for approximately 100 yards. But the Navy-supplied Packard engine was not powerful enough to make the racer competitive, and Williams withdrew from the race, ceding the title to England, which retired the Trophy with a 1931 win. Williams resigned from the Navy in 1930. Video: United States Navy
Schneider Trophy Trials, 1929
Harry Houdini made 18 flights in Australia in his Voisin biplane, according to reports in Aircraft magazine; the longest was 19 minutes. For this newsreel footage, he flew more than six miles.
Houdini in Australia
They wouldn't be allowed to do it today, but back in 1959, experienced military pilots would sometimes buzz the Grand Canyon when flying out of nearby Nellis AFB. At the time, RAF pilot Ron Dick was an exchange officer with the US Air Force, training students in a Lockheed T-33. Fellow instructor Bud Pratt recalls that during these Canyon flights, the pilots would fly low enough that water would spray up from the river.Ron Dick rose to the rank of Air Vice Marshal and later became a fellow of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum and a popular writer and lecturer on military history. He died in 2008. His son Gary Dick, who put together this video from Ron's footage, says, "As a lifelong supporter of the National Parks and a man with a keen interest in bird watching, Ron would definitely endorse the flight restrictions that ensure natural quiet in the parks today." Courtesy of Gary Dick
Jetting Through the Grand Canyon
In comic strip form, Smilin Jacks appearance was modeled on that of barnstormer and air racing star Roscoe Turner, three-time winner of the Thompson Trophy. The movie serial went bland and blond with actor Tom Brown, who would later have a recurring role as a rancher on televisions Gunsmoke. This 1943 serial featured the lovely Marjorie Lord, Keye Luke (better known as Charlie Chans Number One son and for his recurring role in the TV series Kung Fu), Sidney Toler (Charlie Chan), and Turhan Bey (Bey was in several serials; his exotic looks doomed him always to play the heavy). Watch the other chapters of The Adventures of Smilin' Jack at the Internet Archive.Interactive Archive
The Adventures of Smilin' Jack (1943)
In this silent film clip, an enthusiastic crowd gathers on the Washington, D.C. Polo Field on May 15, 1918, to watch the first scheduled airmail service linking New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. Shortly after President and Mrs. Wilson arrived, a Post Office truck delivered four bags of mail, into which President Wilson deposited a letter from Postmaster General Albert Burleson to Thomas Patten, the postmaster of New York. Lieutenant George Boyle took off in his JN-4H, carrying the mail north. Unfortunately, the rookie pilot headed south, confused by the overabundance of train tracks (which he was instructed to use as a guide), and landed 60 minutes later near Waldorf, Maryland, overturning his airplane in the process.Meanwhile, the eagerly anticipated mail from New Yorkwhich had yet to arriveincluded a music roll addressed to the president, a copy of Secretary of War Newton Bakers book of his impressions of the Front, and a letter to the President from New York Governor Charles Whitman, pledging the states support for the coming Red Cross drive. Also winging its way to Washington was a letter to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, from the officers and men of the Pelham Bay Training Camp urging Daniels to attend a performance of Biff Bang, a shindig to be performed by the enlisted men. Three hours and five minutes after leaving Belmont Park Racetrack in New York, Lieutenant Webb landed in Washington, D.C. and deposited the mail, which was quickly sorted by Boy Scouts assigned to the task. Video: Courtesy National Archives and Record Administration
The First Day of Airmail, 1918
C-130F in Carrier Operations EvaluationIn a test of the venerable and versatile C-130's suitability to support the Navy, a C-130F was equipped with an antiskid braking system and landed on the U.S.S. Forrestal. Footage courtesy Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company.
Hercules On Deck
LINDY OFF TO SOUTH AMERICA; TAKES HIS MOTHER TO CAPITOLSTORY LINE: Charles Lindbergh is about to open a new airmail route to the Southern Hemisphere. His mother, Mrs. Evangeline Lindbergh, accompanies him as far as Washington, DC. SCRIPT: Lindy and his mother. Shes got a great chauffeur. As soon as he brings his new plane here from the coast he gives his mother a ride. You know, Mrs. Lindbergh, Sr. is a teacher of chemistry. Well, here goes mamma into the rumble seat with Lindy helping her. A cop tries to help him with his parachute but Lindy writes his own ticket. Only a few minutes now and hell be off on another wonderful flight. That boy just cant stay on the ground. Sometimes I think hes got tender feet. Heres a couple of good-bye close-ups and before they start Lindy looks over to see that his mother is comfy. His plane is bright red and shes a beauty. She skims along and first thing you know the ground is left behind. Lindys going to blaze a new airmail route from New York to the Canal Zone. And when he blazes em they stay blazed. Good luck, Lindy!Location: Roosevelt Field, NY; Release Date: 04/26/30
Alan Eustace broke the world altitude record for a parachute jump on October 24, 2014 by leaping from a stratospheric height of more than 135,000 feet. Footage Courtesy Atomic Entertainment and Paragon Space Development Corporation
A Record Jump
At about 6,000 pounds, the Beech 18 that Matt Younkin twirls around the airshow circuit is one of the heavier civilian airplanes performing today. No wonder he chose for his musical accompaniment the song Pink Elephants on Parade. But in this video excerpt of Younkins routine, its easy to see why the historic Twin Beech established a reputation for elegance. In the 1940s and early 1950s, Beech 18s and their military counterpart C-45s squired corporate executives and generals to boardrooms and bases. The DC-3 of the corporate set, the Twin Beech is today a favorite among aviation history buffs.Younkins father, airshow legend Bobby Younkin, flew performances in a Twin Beech beginning in 1990. (Younkin died in 2005 when he and show partner Jimmy Franklin collided during a Masters of Disaster routine.) With a paint scheme that emphasizes the 18s graceful lines, Matt Younkins current Beech continues the tradition and is in heavy demand; Younkin performed at 23 shows last season with both daytime and nighttime routines. Video: Julie Artz
Matt Younkin's Beech
In 1944, Robert Turnell and Ray Owen flew Hellcats from the USS Wasp; last year at the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum, they had some catching up to do. This video follows the veterans as they meet again and as their family members explain what the reunion has meant to all of them. (Video: Michelle Donoghue)
Hellcat Pilots of VF-81
Page 1 of 3
Current Issue |
December 2021/January 2022
Farewell to a Giant
The Next Robots on the Moon
A New Gallery Celebrates the Pioneers of Flight
View Table of Contents
First & Last Name
City / State
Enter your email address
Give a Gift
Updates, newsletters and special offers
This Week's Best Stories
Air & Space Magazine
Enter your email address