6 Things To Know About Air Force One

I grew up with brothers who were crazy about airplanes. I was (still am) crazy about history, so by default, I’ve learned to love aspects of aviation history. This month we’re talking about Presidential Trivia, and I thought it might be fun to round up some facts about the planes that have transported U.S. Presidents – aircraft commonly called “Air Force One.”

From Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency and onward, U.S. Presidents have used aircraft to travel domestically and internationally. Here are six historical things to know about presidents and aviation history: Continue reading

History of Helicopters

Today I’m teaching a short class on the History of the Helicopter: 400 BC to Modern Era at a Youth Aviation Club meeting. The group meets about twice a month and encourages young folks to learn about flying and how to make their dreams of soaring and zooming a reality.

Sikosky Helicopter, 1940s

Sikosky Helicopter, 1940s

I love aviation history! It’s kind of my history hobby to enjoy reading about and seeing old aircraft. (Check my June field trip for some fun airplane photos). So I enjoyed doing the research to put together a presentation for the club and even found some topics that would be great “long” research projects sometime in the future.

Anyway, here’s a few of the facts that I’ll be presenting:

  • The Chinese used a very basic form of a helicopter  in 400 BC as children’s toys.
  • Leonardo da Vinci actually drew plans for a “helicopter” type flying machine.  The problem: since his design was based around the principle of a screw, the entire aircraft was going to spin…like an amusement park ride. Yikes!
  • During the Age of the Enlightenment (1700’s) Christian de Launoy  built a basic model using turkey feathers as rotor blades and demonstrated it in the French Academy of Sciences
  • 1861: the word “helicopter” is used for the first time and steam powered models try to fly (unsuccessfully)
  • 1870: coaxial helicopter toys are built for children (Wilbur and Orville Wright played with one)
  • Thomas Edison tries to invent a vertical flying machine with an internal combustion engine (unsuccessfully)
  • 1907: man flies in a helicopter about two feet off the ground!
  • Not used in WWI
  • In the 1920’s and 1930 the principles of vertical flight begin to be understood and flying models improve
  • Not practical for use during WWII, but a few models were used for medical evacuations in remote areas
  • Igor Sikosky builds successful helicopters in the United States.  The aircraft is adopted for the military and civilian usages
  • 1951: the first turbine powered helicopter is developed
  • Helicopters were used extensively in the Korean and Vietnam War
  • Helicopters are still used today in varied jobs; with continued improvements they will probably remain part of the aviation world for a long time.

There you have it – a very brief synopsis of the presentation and some new aviation/historical facts to educate (or annoy) your friends.

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. See you on Friday for the last post on the American War for Independence! And here’s the Nathanael Green and Benjamin Lincoln biographies, in case you missed the last couple weeks.

 

Historic Aircraft in Tucson, AZ

Bonus post…I’ve been traveling.

Some of you may have noticed that the weekly post (this month featuring the Normandy Invasion) was late in appearing last week.  No, delayed posting is not going to be my habit, and perhaps you will forgive me if when you see where I was with no computer access!

PIMA AIR & SPACE MUSEUM…and….DAVIS-MONTHAN AF BASE AIRCRAFT BONEYARD in Tucson, Arizona.

Here’s some photos and a little journaling –

Pima Air and Space Museum

Pima Air and Space Museum

This A-10 Thunderbolt II is displayed in the main hanger.

This A-10 Thunderbolt II is displayed in the main hanger.

 

Look at all these planes!

Look at all these planes!

Beautifully restored B-17 Bomber from WWII

Beautifully restored B-17 Bomber from WWII

There are over 300 planes here at the Pima Air and Space Museum.  I had a day and a half at the facility and could have spent longer.  (I like to read every sign in a museum…not always the best idea when on a limited time schedule).

One of Miss Sarah's favorite WWII aircraft - THE P-51 Mustang.

One of Miss Sarah’s favorite WWII aircraft – THE P-51 Mustang.

I really like World War II era aircraft and this museum had an abundance of these displays.

The Helicopter Line

The Helicopter Line

The entire museum facility covers about 80 acres!  Aside from the hangers there are hundreds of aircraft displayed outside.  I highly recommend the tram around the property as a way to see most of the outdoor display; our tour guide was informative and I learned quite a bit.  Later I went back and took photos of specific aircraft.

Pima Air and Space Museum is the largest non-profit, non-government-owned flight museum in the United States.  They have over 300 aircraft in pristine facilities or outdoor locations.  The museum volunteers and staff were very friendly and informative.

Now, onto the Air Force Boneyard – accessible to civilians by tour bus!  Here, military aircraft are preserved for future use, salvaged for unique parts, or ultimately crunched after all useable parts are removed.  Applause to the Air Force for their penny-pinching and resourcefulness in an era of tight military budgeting.

This plane and the others in the background could fly again.

This plane and the others in the background could fly again.

These large transport planes are truly in the boneyard...they will never fly again and are being stripped of useful equipment needed by aircraft still in service.

These large transport planes are truly in the boneyard…they will never fly again and are being stripped of useful equipment needed by aircraft still in service.

More planes in the boneyard.

More planes in the boneyard.

I thoroughly enjoyed my sight-seeing time in Tucson, AZ, and I hope that if you are in the area you will stop by the museum or tour the base.  If you love historic aircraft, planes, or flight technology this is a place you may never wish to leave.

Beauty of Flight!

Beauty of Flight!

There is something wonderful about flying.  Defense, patriotism, pleasure, recreation, experiment, challenge, adventure, dream…so many aspects in the idea of flight.  The  sculpture at the Pima Air and Space Museum defines this idea simply: Beauty of Flight.

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

For your information: http://www.pimaair.org/