The Blog of Ken.

from May 23, 2010

Smithsonian Air and Space, Part 1

This was quite the “kid in a candy store” day for me. A few years ago, the Smithsonian created a new museum out by the airport for all the planes that were too big to display at the original Air and Space Museum downtown. And that’s where John and I spent the day. I took far too many pictures. I’ll just start at the beginning and see how many I get through.

A couple of planes

Yeah, I could spend some time here.

Pre-World War 1

The history of aviation is pretty amazing. See that thing up there? It isn’t completely restored, and the engine is missing, but this was state-of-the-art exactly one century ago.

The most unfortunate thing about the history of aviation is that war is almost always the catalyst that pushes technology forward. Here’s an advanced pre-World-War-I plane.

Fowler-Gage Biplane 1912

Bits of canvas and wood, and wheels borrowed from a bicycle. Then people started shooting at each other in Europe…

Caudron G.4, 1917
Spad XVI, 1918

In a very short period of time, engines got much bigger, and the idea of an aerodynamic design started showing up. They look much more solid than before the war, don’t they? All because some guys went up in one of those flimsy little contraptions to check on enemy positions, then someone from the other side shot at them, then someone installed a machine gun, then someone decided to do a loop… One thing leads to another.

After the war was over, new uses were thought up for these newly sophisticated planes and all the well-trained pilots who were available to fly them.

Would you trust this man with your airmail?

Okay, well, still, despite some of the pilots, aviation was really taking off. Ha! Taking off!

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