‘The Nation’s Hangar’

“The Nation’s Hangar: Aircraft Treasures of the Smithsonian” peers into the aircraft collection that is the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The book packs more than 225 full-color and 75 black and white photos in its 254 pages. Author F. Robert Van Der Linden offers much detail beyond the pictures.

The book begins with background on the Udvar-Hazy Center, which opened in 2003. Much of the work since opening has been focused on the $55 million “Phase Two”, now complete, which allows for an on-airport, state-of-the-art restoration facility. “Phase Two” replaces the 23 buildings used by NASM at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility, which is named for the museum’s first curator.

Tremendous photography and detail accompanies chapters on “Restoration and Conservation,” “The Early Yeas of Flight,” “The Golden Age of Flight,” “The Second World War,” “Air Warfare in the Pacific,” all before a 48-page chapter titled, “Civil Aviation in the Postwar Years.”

This chapter, with photos that include an Ercoupe over Washington D.C. (try that today), Bob Hoover’s Shrike Commander, and the Cessna 180 “Spirit of Columbus” feels like walking down the ramp at your local airport in the 1950s and 1960s. The planes appear familiar (most of them anyway) and approachable, and the accompanying details complete the story behind the pictures.

A two-page photo spread includes four pictures of a Fulton Airphibian, a plane I’ve never seen before. In 1950, it received “the first approved type certificate for a flying car.” What a beauty.

The book concludes with a chapter titled, “Postwar Military Aviation and Vertical Flight.”

There is something for everyone in this book. Priced at $29.95, it would be a great additional to any library.

For more information: Smithsonian Institute, Amazon.com

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