Aviation history

National Aviation Day and the 3rd Wright Brother

At Seattle's Museum of Flight

In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed August 19  – Orville Wright’s birthday – to be National Aviation Day.

It’s a great excuse (as if you really need one) to celebrate aviation, aviation history, aviators through the ages and how fun it is to fly.

But ever since I learned the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s sister, Katherine, I make sure to pay homage to her on this day.

Few people even know the Wright Brothers had a sister. But without Katherine who, for example, kept the bicycle shop running while her brothers were out doing their thing in the Kitty Hawk dunes, National Aviation Day may have had a very different back story.

Here’s a link to a radio piece titled Katherine Wright: The Forgotten Wright Brother,  that I put together for National Public Radio (way back in 2003!) on Katherine Wright. When the Wright Brothers were all the rage, Katherine was known as the 3rd Wright Brother and most certainly should be remembered on National Aviation Day.

Take a listen and let me know what you think.

 

Lost airport amenity: Lindbergh’s monocoupe leaving St. Louis airport

For years, the 1934 Model D-127 Monocoupe once owned by aviator Charles Lindbergh has been on display at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL), over the Concourse C security checkpoint in Terminal 1.

But the airplane, which has been on loan to the airport from the Missouri Historical Society since 1979, is coming down for good on Tuesday June 12 and put away for what is described as a “much neeed rest.”

“The 1934 Lindbergh Monocoupe is an exceedingly rare aircraft in that it still retains its original fabric covering,” said Katherine Van Allen, managing director of museum services for the Missouri Historical Society, in a statement, “In order to ensure that this unique piece of history is preserved for future generations, the Missouri Historical Society is removing the plane to a humidity and climate-controlled storage facility in accordance with present-day best practices in collections care.”

 

According to the Missouri History Museum, which received the plane in 1940, Lindbergh flew this airplane regularly, but didn’t really love it.

And even though he’d had it personalized extensively, he wrote that “It is one of the most difficult planes to handle I have ever flown. The take-off is slow…and the landing tricky…[it] is almost everything an airplane ought not to be.”

Still, it is an aviation treasure. And one that could have been lost to history back in April 2011 when a tornado hit the airport, doing millions of dollars of damage. By luck, Lindergh’s monocoupe had been moved to a storage facility just a few weeks before, in preparation for scheduled terminal renovations.

Here’s a video of the plane being rehung in the airport in 2013:

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When you visit STL,  you’ll still see an airplane suspended from the ceiling over a Terminal 2 checkpoint. That plane is also owned by the Missouri Historical Society, but it’s a 1933 Red Monocoupe 110 Special with no link to Lindbergh.

 

Fresh arts/entertainment at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport

 A fresh program of live local art and entertainment offerings – “ArtsWave Presents” – begins today, March 16, at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and continues on Friday afternoons through May.

Here’s what’s on tap for the next few weeks.  

·         2-3 PM: Friday, March 16: Northern Kentucky University Philharmonic

·         2-3 PMFriday, March 30: James McCray Choral Ensemble

·        More to come  Fridays: April 6April 20May 4May 25

CVG, which is currently undergoing a $6 million terminal modernization project, is also displaying a nice collection of items from the Cincinnati Museum Center, including the spacesuit of Neil Armstrong.

And, of course, this is the airport that has miniature therapy horses come visit with travelers.

How a 747 design change proposal spurred the ’60-foot rule’

United Airlines’ final charter flight to say goodbye to the airline’s fleet of 747 airccraft, was quite a party and you can see my story and photos on the event on the Runway Girl Network.

But during all the hoopla, a representative of the flight attendant’s union mentioned to me that debate over a change in the 747 design back in the mid-1980s spurred an important safety rule – the FAA’s 60-foot rule – that applies to just about all airplanes today.

The short version of the story is that in 1984 Boeing proposed taking out a set of exit doors on the 747 jumbo jet to make more room for seats. Flight attendants and pilots – and their unions – raised concerns over the ability to get everyone off the plane in an emergency without those doors and pushed back.

The Federal Aviation Administration ruled on the side of safety.

Read my full story on how this came about in my Runway Girl Network story here.

Photo courtesy Boeing Company

Denver’s old Stapleton Airport tower gets new use

 

Before Denver International Airport opened in 1995, the city was served by the closer in Stapleton International Airport.

A mixed-used neighborhood has been growing in the space formerly occupied by the decommissioned airport, and next week a new business will open in the building at the base of the abanonded air traffic control tower building.

Denver-based “eatertainment” company Punch Bowl Social is getting ready to open Punch Bowl Social Stapleton, with six bowling lanes, foosball, darts, ping-pong, private karaoke rooms, a photo booth, shuffle board, giant scrabble, a diner and a bar.

 

 

The outside space will offer more fun and games, including two bocce courts, an astroturf lined ‘pool’, a gazebo and a beer garden.

It’s hard to tell from these renderings how much the space really includes the promised nods to the ‘golden age of flight,’ but we’ll stop by for a visit after the grand opening on November 18 to check it out.