AidSpace Blog

Winged Wonders

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Fokker D.VIII (SI-A-43639-L~A)
NASM 7A 24142

“People Standing on Wings” is probably one of the more obscure genres of aviation photography found in the Museum’s Archives Division files. Originally, men and women stood on aircraft wings to demonstrate the strength of the wing and struts, as in this 1919 photograph of a Fokker D.VIII fighter, taken at the Fokker factory in Amsterdam (designer Tony Fokker, 1890-1939, stands to the right of the aircraft)…

Dayton-Wright RB Racer (SI-A-49251-A~Am)
NASM 00033809

… And in this shot of the advanced Dayton-Wright RB Racer, built as a contender for the 1920 Gordon Bennett air race. Despite the obvious strength of its cantilver wing, the RB had to withdraw from the race, after suffering a broken rudder cable.

Aeromarine 75 "Buckeye" (SI-89-1182~A)
SI 89-1182

But something glitzier than mere structural integrity was on the mind of the photographer of the Aeromarine 75 flying boat “Buckeye” of Aeromarine Airways, c.1921.

Luscombe 8C Silvaire Deluxe (SI-A-4183-C~Am)
NASM 00067327

Some sort of record must have been set with this photograph of twenty-nine ladies on a Luscombe 8C Silvaire Deluxe from around 1940.

Boeing B-15, New York World's Fair, 1939 (SI-97-17029~A)
NASM 3B 43089

The apotheosis of the genre was probably achieved with this 1939 photograph of the huge one of a kind Boeing B-15, festooned with Aquabelles and Air Corps personnel at the New York World’s Fair, 1939. The Aquabelles were synchronized swimmers who performed at the World’s Fair at Billy Rose’s famous Aquacade. Nowadays, one could certainly crowd more people on an Airbus A380, but how could it possibly compete with a B-15 wing full of Aquabelles?

NASM's F-14 Tomcat (SI 2006-20169_640)
SI 2006-20169
Photograph by Dane Penland

And people are still standing on wings: a U.S. Navy team from VF-31 – the Tomcatters – wing it on the Museum’s F-14D(R) Tomcat, painting and helping the Museum preserve the aircraft.
Allan Janus is a museum specialist in the Archives Division of the National Air and Space Museum.
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7 thoughts on “Winged Wonders

  1. Great shots, the old and the new.
    Any chance of a shot of an A380 with a wing full of Aquabelles

  2. Pingback: Aircraft Identification V - Page 254 - Aircraft of World War II - Warbird Forums

  3. I think it is amazing when you view the last century and our progression in aviation. Honestly the pioneers of there day had a lot of Guts and were very brave to even attempt to fly in those prototypes. We don’t realize how lucky we have it these days compared to only a century ago. It’s staggering to compare and view the differences

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