“A Machine Of Practical Utility”

While lauded for their 1903 flight, the Wright brothers were not convinced of their airplane’s reliability to sustain long, controlled flights until October 1905

On the morning of October 5, 1905, Amos Stauffer and a field hand were cutting corn when the distinctive clatter and pop of an engine and propellers drifted over from the neighboring pasture. The Wright boys, Stauffer knew, were at it again. Glancing up, he saw the flying machine rise above the heads of the dozen or so spectators gathered along the fence separating the two fields. The machine drifted toward the crowd, then sank back to earth in a gentle arc. The first flight of the day was over in less than 40 seconds. Read more »

“Aircraft 53-1876A Has Lost A Device”

How the U.S. Air Force came to drop an A-bomb on South Carolina

On the afternoon of March 11, 1958, the Gregg sisters—Helen, six, and Frances, nine—and their cousin Ella Davies, nine, were in the playhouse their father had built for them in the woods behind their house in Mars Bluff, South Carolina. About four o’clock they tired of the playhouse and moved 200 feet to the side yard. This kept them from becoming the first Americans killed by a nuclear weapon released on U.S. territory. U.S.

 
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My Life With The Lone Eagle

The trouble with having (and being) a hero

Charles A. Lindbergh, who vaulted to international fame seventy years ago this May by taking off alone one night and flying from New York to Paris in his single-engine monoplane, is buried in a small churchyard on the eastern end of the island of Maui in Hawaii. I learned this a few years ago in a conversation with a couple of tourists in the bar of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Oahu. Read more »

Ghosts From The Sky

THIS JULY MORE THAN TWENTY THOUSAND airplanes will make their way across hundreds and even thousands of miles of sky to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Some eight hundred thousand people will come to see them there, topping off the local hotel facilities, sleeping in college dorms and the rented bedrooms of private homes. For a few days a busy tent city will blossom around the planes, as America’s most impressive annual aviation event runs its hectic, buoyant course. Read more »

Death Of A Dirigible

“Come and see the boiling cloud, ” said a woman on the ground; aloft, the slender Shenandoah headed straight into the eye of the vicious squall

Over Lakehurst, New Jersey, the sky was unsettled on the afternoon of September 2, 1925. At times it was almost clear; then ominous clouds would scud across the field of the Naval Air Station and disappear as quickly as they had come. The airship Shenandoah , nose to her high mooring mast, was floating gracefully with the variable breezes. Her twenty gas bags were about 91 per cent full, her tanks loaded with 9,075 pounds of water and 16,620 pounds of gasoline. Sailors were riding up the elevator to the top of the mast.