Aviation history

STL Airport’s Black Americans in Flight mural turns 30

Make sure to see this historic mural at STL Airport

August 13, 2020 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the dedication ceremony unveiling the Black Americans In Flight mural that now hangs in Terminal One (T1) at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL).

The five-panel mural is eight feet tall and 51 feet long. It pays tribute to African-American Achievements in Aviation from 1917 onward.

Included in the historic mural are 75 portraits, 18 aircraft, five unit patches, and one spacecraft.

In 1986 the Committee for the Aviation Mural Project Success (CAMPS) commissioned St. Louis artist Spencer Taylor to create the mural.

The initial assignment was to honor St. Louis African-American pilots that flew in World War II, also known as Tuskegee Airmen. But Taylor worked with another local artist, Solomon Thurman, and expanded the mural to include the much broader story of African-Americans in aviation and the history they made.

Notable people featured in the mural

A few of the notable people you can spot in the mural include:

Capt. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. On September 2, 1941, David became the first African-American to solo an aircraft as an officer of the U.S. Army Air Corp.

Capt. Wendell O. Pruitt. A St. Louis native, Pruitt was one-half of the famed “Gruesome Twosome.” Capt. Pruitt along and Capt. Lee Archer are considered the most successful pair of Tuskegee pilots in terms of air victories. Both men were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Capt. Marcella A. Hayes. Hayes is the first African-American woman to complete U.S. Army pilot training in 1979. Following her training, she became an Army helicopter pilot.

Capt. Edward J. Dwight, Jr.  He is the first African-American candidate for NASA’s space program.

Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D. McNair was a specialist aboard the fatal launch of the Challenger space shuttle in January of 1986.

Mae C. Jemison, M.D. She is the first African-American female astronaut.

In 2017, STL held an event to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the mural’s installation. COVID-19 means no formal ceremony or event can take place now, for the 30th anniversary.

If you can’t visit STL right now and see this mural in person, you can find more information about it on the STL website. There’s also a report on the time Lt. Colonel Marcella Ng (formerly Capt. Marcella Hayes) visited St. Louis and got her first chance to see her portrait in the mural and meet with one of the artists.

Aviation memorabilia at John Wayne Airport (SNA)

Hang gliders on display at John Wayne Airport (JWA)

One nice perk of visiting lots of airports is getting to see great art and history exhibits, even if your trip doesn’t leave much time to hang out in many museums around town.

We miss that right now. But we are glad airports continue to share their fresh exhibits with us online.

A great example:

In California, the John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Orange County now has an exhibit featuring aviation memorabilia and historical artifacts highlighting the history of women in aviation.

The displays include items that date back to the early 1900s.

The exhibit is put together by the Ninety-Nines Museum of Women Pilots and tells the history of women pilots and aviation pioneers including Amelia Earhart, who was the first president of the Ninety-Nines.

Why “Ninety-Nines“?

The group was established in 1929 by 99 women pilots. The group name represents the 99 charter members who became the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots.

Look for this exhibit at John Wayne Airport (SNA) in the Vi Smith Gallery on the Departure (upper) Level in Terminal C across from Gate 14.

(Photos courtesy John Wayne Airport)

BWI & LAX airports mark anniversaries

Two airports celebrate dedication anniversaries this week: Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

70 years ago, on June 24, 1950, President Harry S. Truman officially dedicated Friendship International Airport, which is now known as Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

11 years later, then-Vice President Lynden B. Johnson was on hand on June 25, 1961 for the dedication of the Jet Age terminals at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

A few years later, in 1964, Lucille Ball was at LAX to inaugurate the first “Astroway” – or moving walkway – at LAX .

Vintage travel posters to inspire a post-pandemic trip

Courtesy Boston Public Library

If you have been heeding the shelter-at-home advisories during this health crisis you may be organizing your photos and looking through scrapbooks from past trips.

Here’s something else to add your list: planning your next trip using the collections of vintage travel posters we came across while researching this fun story for AAA Washington as inspiration.

Here are some of the vintage travel poster images we enjoyed.

Smithsonian Institution Air & Space Museum

Courtesy National Air & Space Museum

About 1300 airline posters dating from the early 1920s to the present are on the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum website.

SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport  

Courtesy SFO Museum

More than 1200 travel posters promoting global air travel are in the collection of the SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport. Most are accessible online.

Boston Public Library

Courtesy Boston Public Library

More than 350 travel posters are in the collection of the Boston Public Library, which shares them on Flickr.

Library of Congress – WPA Travel Posters

Courtesy Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has hundreds of travel posters in its collection, including the now-iconic travel and tourism posters promoting national parks and other U.S. destinations made by artists hired by Works Projects Administration (WPA) from 1936 to 1943.

Space Tourism Posters

Why not consider a trip to space?

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory offers a series of specially-commissioned WPA-style posters promoting space tourism

Chill like Amelia Earhart

It’s been a tough few weeks for a lot of us. And there are more tough weeks on the way.

We’re being told to stay home, keep our distance from others and stay away from airports and airplanes.

Yet, we’re being encouraged to stay busy.

So today we’re sharing two great “be chill” photos we found in the collection of the International Women’s Air & Space Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.

The photos are from a collection focusing on Amelia Earhart.

One shows her relaxing and reading a book.

The other shows Amelia in her garden.

If Amelia Earhart can take a break, I guess we can too.

Stay safe!