There is a special fascination to old machinery, and particularly that which has been restored to its original working condition.
Unlike static displays, working machines let us hear, smell, touch and feel the strength, the beauty, the inventiveness of mechanical things that did the work of the nation in bygone times.
Aircraft restorers know the value of such experiences, which go beyond their love for the airplanes themselves.
At Massey Aerodrome and Museum in Maryland, one goal is to get the resident DC-3’s 1,200-horsepower radials running, not so the airplane can fly again but so visitors can hear them and know what the first great airliners sounded like when they were the very finest way to travel.
At Fantasy of Flight in Florida you can walk through hangars full of rare airplanes from several bygone eras, touch them and learn their history from owner Kermit Weeks, then watch and listen as he flies one for the crowd, which he does almost every day.
At Spokane, Wash., one of only three known Boeing 40s soon will be flying the old air mail routes that its siblings once served, transporting imaginative watchers and listeners to the 1920s and early ’30s.
When you have enjoyed these restorations, or others similar to them, thank the men and women who make it all possible; the enthusiasts who restore and maintain and fly these splendid machines that, one way or another, made our lives better.