Finney's story may have involved Civil War time travelers, but that didn't stop him from checking his facts.

Stealing the Wright Flyer

Back in 1951, sci-fi author Jack Finney had a few questions for the Smithsonian, like: How exactly would someone break in?


One of the "Intrepid Birdwomen"

"Here is a group of feminine flyers who don't just fool around with flying," reported the Los Angeles Times in January 1934. "They hardly ever powder their noses. They don't even carry mirrors. They'd rather poke their not unhandsome little noses into a balky carburetor than riffle up a pack of bri...

Emory's 1912 student photo.

The Unrecognized First

Emory Malick, an early American pilot, wasn't known to historians until recently.

Armstrong with copilot Peter Reynolds in their record-setting Learjet Longhorn 28, February 1979.

Neil Armstrong’s Other World Records


When Airmail Hazards Included Buffalo

India is an air-minded nation. Philatelist Pradip Jain notes in his 2002 book Indian Airmails that the Ramayama, the ancient Sanskrit epic, includes references to King Nala and Princess Damayanti sending "amorous messages to each other through the medium of a flying, talking swan." During the Maury...


Who's First?

The things he carried: A sack of coffee. Fifty copies of the local newspaper, the Press Democrat. Three letters.Those letters are what put Fred Wiseman into the history books. On February 17, 1911, Wiseman—authorized by the Santa Rosa, California, postmaster—carried the first mail by airplane.To ce...


"The Martian Lord of Creation"

"Those who have never seen a living Martian can scarcely imagine the strange horror of its appearance.... Even at this first encounter, this first glimpse, I was overcome with disgust and dread." —H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds, 1898.Wells wasn't alone in thinking Red Planet Dwellers would be a comp...

Working the Ramp

A new book chronicles the ins-and-outs of being a baggage handler

Roy Tucker prepares for nightfall with one of several backyard telescopes, a 14-inch Celestron.

How to discover asteroids in your spare time

Roy Tucker has the answer.

Concorde: Flying Supersonic

For 27 years, the Concorde carried passengers across the Atlantic Ocean at twice the speed of sound, on the very edge of space

A Piece of Lafayette Escadrille History

Over 15 episodes, Captain Midnight survived bombs, fire, near drowning, and more, before delivering criminal mastermind Ivan Shark to the police — a departure from the comic strip, in which Shark was devoured by a polar bear.

Thrills! Chills! Mystery in the Air!

In the 1930s and ’40s, heroic pilots engaged enemy aircraft — every Saturday morning.


The Autobots Are Coming!

The defense research agency DARPA recently selected six companies to participate in a year-long program to transform a Humvee-like vehicle into an aircraft. Lockheed Martin and AAI Corporation are asked to supply something that can “avoid traditional and asymmetrical threats while avoiding road ...


Magellans of the Air

On September 28, 1924, crowds cheered and sirens shrieked as the Army Service pilots known as "the Magellans of the Air" landed at Sand Point Field in Seattle, Washington, after completing the first round-the-world flight.They had set off on April 6, some six months earlier, determined to circumnav...


You've Got (Balloon) Mail

In September 1870, not long after the start of the Franco-Prussian War, the city of Paris was under siege by Prussian soldiers. By the 19th, the German army had blocked all communication into or out of the city. There was nothing worse, wrote French journalist Francisque Sarcey, than to "live cut o...


Pushing His Buttons

Alex Spencer, curator of British aircraft and military flight materiél at the National Air and Space Museum, started his career some 20 years ago as a lowly intern. One morning, as he was riding the shuttle out to the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Suitland, Maryl...

Museum volunteer Tom Momiyama with the last remaining Ohka K2 at the Museum’s restoration facility.

The Mysterious Second Seat

Why would the Japanese need a two-seat Ohka?

The dapper Edgar Mix (1905 self-portrait) avidly documented aeronautical events around Paris.

The Curious Case of Edgar Mix

The celebrated aeronaut found Earth-bound life difficult to navigate.


Wings of Honor

The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., was built to honor the 16 million Americans who served in the armed forces during that conflict, the more than 400,000 who died, and all who supported their efforts from the homefront. But the Greatest Generation is aging rapidly, and about 1,200 World...


The Most Well-Traveled Nobel in the Universe

On May 14, 2010, when the Space Shuttle Atlantis left for the International Space Station (ISS) on its 32nd and final flight, it carried some typical items on board: the Russian mini-research module (which provided a new docking port and storage space for the ISS), and a cargo carrier filled with s...

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