From the collection of the Virginia Aviation Museum (a division of the Science Museum of Virginia) are two World War II era morale boosters for troops. These booklets provided entertainment for those serving overseas during the war. The “Army Song Book” was published in 1941 by the Library of Congress and contains well-known songs such as “America the Beautiful” and the “Star Spangled Banner”. It also includes the official song of the U.S. Army Air Corps. Here is an excerpt:
- Producing electricity through subsurface dams set up over strong ocean currents
- The ability to move large amounts of people safely underwater as opposed to dangerous travel above the surface during hostile weather or attacks
A recent acquisition into the collection of the Virginia Aviation Museum is this 1944 Eastern Airlines timetable which contains flight times and prices.
Eastern Airlines began offering passenger flights out of Richmond beginning in 1932.
So you've probably seen the big black plane outside of the Virginia Aviation Museum when you're on your way to the airport. But what exactly is it?
This plane is the SR-71 Blackbird and was manufactured by Lockheed under the direction of the CIA. After World War II, the United States wanted to maintain a close watch on Soviet missile and nuclear weapon production. To do this a plane was needed that could fly very high and very fast to both escape incoming missiles and to avoid detection by Soviet radar, all while taking photographs of what was going on below.
Recently I discovered a scrapbook at the Virginia Aviation Museum. Glued inside a bound ledger of the “Southern Fire Insurance Company, Inc. of Lynchburg, VA”, were newspaper clippings spanning from the early 1920s to the late 1930s describing various advancements and events in the progress of aviation technology. Eighty-two of the pages are filled with descriptions of Amelia Earhart, the Zeppelin, and Byrd’s Antarctic Expedition (even with a photo of the Stars and Stripes!).
On August 1, 1945, over one hundred US B-29 Superfortresses flew over Japan at around 20,000 feet. At this height they dropped 500-pound containers, each holding leaflets that warned the Japanese civilians of the necessity of surrender. At around 4,000 feet the containers opened and released millions of leaflets that fluttered down to the people below.
Do you remember the first time you were on an airplane? My first flight was when I was in 4th grade to visit relatives in Arizona. Many of us experienced our first flight on a commercial airliner, complete with cushioned seats, in flight movies, and a snack. But what do you think it would have felt like to have your first flight in the open air cockpit of a Curtiss Jenny during World War I? (My guess: loud, bumpy, and no snacks). Native Virginian Thomas Love Chrisman did just that when he left school at the University of Virginia to serve in World War I.