Author Archives: Allan Janus

Pilot Error, Evidently

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    In the years before the invention of the flight data recorder, the “black box” that records essential flight data, an aircraft accident investigation could occasionally degenerate into a mere finger-pointing exercise, like this one from Russia during World War I — a group of aviation cadets at the Gatchina Military Flying School near   …Continue Reading


A Hero of the Titanic in the Files

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It’s July 26, 1909, and President William Howard Taft (left) has arrived in his superb White Motor Company Model M Steamer at Fort Myer, just across the Potomac from Washington, to watch the Wright brothers’ preparations for the trial flight of their Military Flyer. On the following day, Orville Wright would make a record flight   …Continue Reading


And Now, the Easter Balloon Bunny

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    In the early years of the 20th century, one of the ways that enthusiasm for all things aeronautical found expression were in colorful chromolithographic postcards, like this Easter postcard featuring an intrepid, though slightly nervous-looking, rabbit who takes to the sky onboard a festive aerial egg balloon. The card was mailed to one   …Continue Reading


The Santa Claus Express, Then and Now

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  In 1925, Mr. S. Claus was looking for a modern alternative to his old-fashioned reindeer-powered sleigh. Having once shown an interest in lighter-than-air flight in the form of hot-air balloons, Santa was favorably inclined when Goodyear came up with a solution — toy delivery via airship, in this case, Pilgrim I, renamed the Santa   …Continue Reading


A Poultry Pilot

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    Turkeys are generally  considered to be flightless birds, but as this postcard from the files of the Museum’s Archives Division vividly illustrates, they are capable of short hops, especially when at the controls of biplanes. If you’re flying to your Thanksgiving destination, bon voyage, and keep your eyes peeled for flying turkeys. Allan   …Continue Reading