The National Air and Space Museum has the preeminent collection of aircraft anywhere. A new book – Milestones of Flight – looks at 29 legendary aircraft from the 1903 Wright Flyer to the MQ-1L Predator drone.
While powered flight has a relatively short history, the achievements made are remarkable. Milestones of Flight uses the National Air and Space Museum’s collection to shine the spotlight on those achievements. A few of the 190 photos from the book follow.
1909 Wright Military Flyer
“The purchase price was set at $25,000 with 10% added for each full mile per hour of speed over the required 40 miles per hour and 10% deducted for each full mile per hour under 40 miles per hour.”
Curtiss D Headless Pusher
“Over time, Curtiss and his aviators discovered that a single elevator in the rear was preferable to a canard, transforming the aircraft into a Curtiss D Headless Pusher. Like the Blériot XI, the Curtiss D became the design of choice for would-be pilots and amateur builders across America.”
Douglas World Cruiser
“The publicly stated objectives of the world flight were to establish air routes, improve commerce, and foster better international relations, but its underlying intent was to garner popular support for the army air service and the creation of the independent air force. Any benefits relating to the creation and expansion of commercial air routes were slow to materialize.”
Spirit of St. Louis
“Lindberg was an obscure 25-year-old airmail pilot when he made his epic flight. The son of a Minnesota congressman and a teacher, Lindbergh, though highly intelligent, had little interest in formal education, preferring to toy with mechanical devices while splitting time between running the family farm in Little Falls, Minnesota, and visiting his father in Washington, D.C.”
Earhart’s Lockheed Vega
“It was also one of the first truly streamlined aircraft, designed specifically to fly swiftly and efficiently through the air with the least amount of resistance, and the first production aircraft to carry the drag-reducing National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) cowling around its Pratt & Whitney radial engine.”
Eastern Airlines Douglas DC-3
“The first profitable passenger-carrying airliner, it became a functional and striking symbol of its time, a beautiful, streamlined machine that inspired industrial designers to copy its lines in automobiles, locomotives, and consumer goods.”
“The Superfortress was the most advanced propeller-driven airplane in the world — a technological marvel that represented the latest advances in American aeronautical engineering, bomber design, and strategic bombing doctrine. The Enola Gay facilitated a turning point in human history, ushering in the Atomic Age and the threat of nuclear war.”
“The X-1 was instrumental in gathering pioneering high-speed aeronautical research data, and on Oct. 14, 1947, succeeded in breaking the sound barrier.”
Milestones of Flight: The Epic of Aviation with the National Air and Space Museum is a 208-page hard cover book with 128 color and 62 black and white photos. It was written by Dr. Robert van der Linden, chairman of the Aeronautics Department of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Milestones of Flight is available at your favorite booksellers.