Photos from the Attic

From the collections of Air & Space readers, personal moments in the history of flight.

The 1935 Explorer II mission was a daring ascent into the stratosphere by Captain Albert Stevens (second from left). Edward Dawson Cochley of Wabash, Indiana, sent this photo of his grandfather, great-grandmother, grandmother, and uncle, who was involved with the flight. Scrapbook Reader Submissions

THE WISDOM OF THE CROWD. That’s the guiding philosophy of collaborative Web sites like Wikipedia, which put their trust in collective, rather than individual, expertise. We had something similar in mind last fall when we announced the start of our online Reader Scrapbook. We knew that few groups understood flight like the readers of Air & Space, so we invited you to send us your photos—of airplanes, pilots, passengers, astronauts—anything to do with flying. Then we sat back and watched the e-mails come in.

Several hundred submissions later, the collection is online at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas. As the sample on these pages shows, your snapshots cover flying in all its forms, and remind us again that airplanes, like their owners, have personalities. One day we might receive an elegant photo of a Concorde in flight, the next a quiet shot of a teenage glider pilot nervously anticipating his first solo. You never know what you’ll get when you cast the net wide.

Some pictures come with lots of information, while others are mysteries even to their owners: “I found these in my father’s storage closet,” say the e-mails, or “My uncle took these photos during World War II, but I don’t know where or when.”
We’ve noticed a few gaps—like the Vietnam War, which for some reason has been underrepresented. But in just a few months, you readers already have produced an impressive photo history of aviation, on your own, without any direction or planning. Thanks. And keep ’em coming.

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