Rare Books and Journals on Aviation Now Digitized

In the early 20th century, few things excited the public more than the development of mechanized flying machines.  Whether aircraft or dirigible, these machines were documented in the specialized and popular literature of the day.  The Smithsonian Libraries is committed to digitizing its special collection of rare books and journals on the invention and growth of aviation. Many of the tiles we’ve scanned and digitized to date are accessible through the Internet Archive.

The Wright Flyer

It’s December 17th — the anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first machine powered air flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  In remembrance of that date 109 years ago, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries is featuring The Wright Flyer: An Engineering Perspective by Howard S. Wolko and John David Anderson.  The online version of this 1987 Smithsonian Institution Press book is available via the Internet Archive.

Veterans Day: We Remember the Bombardier

During World War II, the U.S. Army Air Corps heavy bomber fleets of B-17’s, B-24’s, and B-29’s were examples of some of the most advanced technology of the period. These four-engine aircraft were designed and built to deliver tons of bombs to a target, defend themselves against enemy fighter attacks, and get their 10- or 11-man crews back to base, if possible. According to a postwar study of bombardier training, the first bombardiers in the Air Corps were pilots interested in bombing or enlisted personnel who had shown some interest and skill in bombing. Eighteen men graduated from the first class of bombardier training in February 1941. By September 1945, 47,000 bombardiers had been trained by the Army Air Force Training Command.

SOS Established – International Distress Code Designated Today in 1906

S O S – Ships in distress shall use the following signal repeated at brief intervals:…—… The 1906 International Wireless Telegraph Convention established the signal as the call for a ship in distress and was incrementally adopted after the agreement was approved in 1908. This 1935 book on the early history of the S O S signal used by ships in distress is held in the collection.  SOS To The Rescue by Karl Baarslag, Oxford University Press. Hear the S O S signal at  Wikipedia.—Chris Cottrill

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