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.
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.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh was also a prolific author. Her most famous work, Gift from the Sea, was originally published in 1955. This lyrical essay-style book was inspired by a visit to Captiva Island off the coast of Florida. In this introspective book Mrs. Lindbergh uses the natural imagery of the seashells found on the island’s beaches to reflect on the life of the American woman in the 20th century.
Amelia Earhart's Last Flight. Composer(s): McEnery, Dave. Lyricist: McEnery, Dave. Publishing Info: New York, NY: Stasney Music Corp., 1939. Today is Amelia Earhart's birthday. She was born July 24, 1897. The famous aviatrix went missing forty years later in July of 1937. Still a mystery, maybe some of these offerings from the Libraries may someday help to solve this puzzle of aviation history. Witness to the execution: the odyssey of Amelia Earhart. T.C. Buddy Brennan. Lost star: the search for Amelia Earhart. Randall Brink. East to the dawn: the life of Amelia Earhart. Susan Butler. Amelia Earhart: what really happened at Howland: report II: based on the unabridged pre-war Coast Guard record now released by George Carson Carrington. Related links: Amelia Earhart Day Women's History Month: Amelia Earhart Women in Aviation and Space History: Amelia EarhartThe Flight Stuff —Elizabeth Periale
Last year we featured the Montgolfier brothers and the first hot-air balloon flight in June, 1783. This year the view from above the clouds is wonderfully represented by this volume from just a few years later, Airopaidia: containing the narrative of a balloon excursion from Chester, the eighth of September, 1785. A description from the Libraries catalog: Airopaidia: containing the narrative of a balloon excursion from Chester, the eighth of September, 1785, taken from minutes made during the voyage: hints on the improvement of balloons . . . to which is subjoined mensuration of heights by the barometer, made plain; with extensive tables. The whole serving as an introduction to aërial navigation. With a copious index. —Elizabeth Periale Image: Thomas Baldwin, Airopaidia: containing the narrative of a balloon excursion from Chester, the eighth of September, 1785,, 1786, A Balloon Prospect from above the Clouds. More images can be found in the Libraries' Galaxy of images.