Explore Emil Schimpf’s airships on National Aviation Day

Today, August 19th, marks National Aviation Day and we’re celebrating with a lesser-known flying vehicle — the airship. Emil Schimpf’s ballooning manuscript Vorläufige Instruction über Zusammensetzung Gebrauch des Luftschifferparks was recently added to the Smithsonian Transcription Center and is available for crowd-sourced transcription.

Lindbergh’s legacy at the Smithsonian Libraries

Charles Lindbergh, born on February 4th, 1902, made history in his aviation career as the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic.  “Lucky Lindy” soon became an American icon – flying his Spirit of St. Louis to all fifty states to promote air travel and advising airlines.  The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Library is the proud home to many unique items that represent Lindbergh’s legacy, both in aviation and more »

The brief and entertaining history of the Second Army Air Service

The Second Army Air Service was a unit of the United States Army  stationed on the Western Front during World War I. The Second Army Air Service Book, from the collections of the National Air and Space Museum Library, offers a purposely light-hearted account of the unit’s brief history. The group’s arrival in France came a mere month before an armistice was signed ending the war on November 11th, 1918.  

The Short, Soaring Life of Lieutenant Selfridge

One does not readily associate “firsts” in aviation history with either Washington, D.C. or with the Scottish-born scientist and engineer Alexander Graham Bell. Alas, the first fatality in a powered aircraft connects both the nation’s capital and the inventor of the telephone. The Smithsonian’s collections give testament to many aeronautical and military milestones, including the brief but significant life of Thomas E. Selfridge. 

A notable autograph for National Aviation Day

In honor of National Aviation Day, Smithsonian Libraries (SIL) turns to a piece of history found in the Ramsey Room. Established by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1939, National Aviation Day is celebrated every year on August 19th, which is also the birthday of Orville Wright.

Morale: the Navy’s Trans-Atlantic flight

In honor of Memorial Day, we feature this recently digitized book, Morale: the Navy’s Trans-Atlantic flight.

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.

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