Aviation history

Louisville Muhammad Ali Int’l Airport turns 75

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a special banner exhibit, “SDF Through the Years,” in the Jerry E. Abramson Terminal.

The 13-banner exhibit features historical photos from the 1940s to
the present and includes images of visits by United States Presidents, celebrities, as well as key airport partners such as UPS and the Kentucky Air National Guard 123rd Airlift Wing.

Here’s a preview.

Aviation History exhibit at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

November is Aviation History Month. And that means it’s a good time to look at aviation history displays at airports around the country.

First stop: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). There, the Phoenix Airport Museum presents numerous history displays. And exhibits are pre-security. Even better, the airport museum has a new Aviation History Guide chock full of information about the exhibits.

The guide is accessible via QR codes by the displays or online.

Gary Martelli, the manager/curator of the Phoenix Airport Museum was kind enough to send these images, along with descriptions.

American Airlines & PHX

The World’s Largest Airline exhibition is at Terminal 4, level and looks at American Airlines’ long association with PHX. Look for fun facts, historic images, and rare objects like a ‘Flagship’ pennant that traveled millions of miles across America in the 1930s and 1940s.

You can also take a selfie with a life-size image of 1960s flight attendants dressed in their modern red, white and blue American Beauty uniforms.

Fly-In Weddings Were Once a Thing at PHX

The Fly-In Weddings exhibition at Terminal 3, level 1 tells the story of the time when couples could fly into Sky Harbor to get married at an adobe mission-style chapel located right off the runway. The chapel was available for “aerial elopers” for a short time in the 1930s and 1940s. And on display are historic images and the original 200-year-old chapel bell.

World War 1 Fighter Plane

At the airport’s PHX Sky Train 44th Street Station you can look up and see one of the world’s few remaining original World War I fighter planes – the SPAD XIII. The biplane is suspended from the ceiling inside the station and is painted in the colors of the aircraft flown by Arizona’s own flying ace, Lt. Frank Luke, Jr.

National Aviation Day Celebrations

August 19 was National Aviation Day. The holiday first established in 1939 honors the development of aviation and pioneers of flight. And it also marks Orville Wright’s birthday.

Here’s a fun, history-filled, and (don’t tell anyone) educational round-up of some tweets celebrating the day.

We start and end the list with Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), which is hosting an Aviation Week scavenger hunt in the airport, with prizes. And which welcomed 7 passengers and more than 2500 baby chickens on the first commercial flight to land at the airport back in 1949.


Aviation treasures returning to National Air & Space Museum

The Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum has been closed for a while to reboot with two dozen new exhibits. At least 8 of the galleries are set to open this fall.

One of those returning soon is The Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age, an update of the popular exhibition of the same name that has housed the 1903 Wright Flyer since 2003.

As a preview, the museum shared pictures of some of the artifacts we’ll see when the exhibit reopens and pointed us to aviation-themed treasures in the vaults.

12 seconds. That is how long Orville Wright’s first powered flight in the 1903 Wright Flyer lasted. The Wright Brothers used this stopwatch to time the December 1903 flight. The watch will be on display in the reimagined Wright Brothers exhibition.


Once the Wright Brothers showed how ‘easy’ it was to fly, it didn’t take long for the public to become fascinated with airplanes and airplane-themed things. And for flight themes to appear on jewelry, in games, and in art.

Here are a few great objects from the National Air & Space Museum’s collection that we hope we’ll see when the galleries reopen. See you there!

(All images courtesy of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum)

Board Game, Lindbergh, King Collection (A20040289048).
Pillbox with an airplane on the lid
Gold-colored small jewelry charm in the shape of an early monoplane with a visible fuselage frame and propeller that spins.

How DO Toilets Work in Space?

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. is getting a massive makeover that includes the construction and renovation of 23 galleries.

As part of that process, which is set to be completed sometime in 2025, the whole museum has been closed since March.

But the west wing is scheduled to open in the fall of 2022 with new exhibitions that explore a wide variety of aviation themes, including the Wright Brothers’ story, planets and moons, early aviation, high-speed technology, and other topics.

In advance of the opening, the Smithsonian is adopting a new brand identity and logomark for the National Air and Space Museum that “uses positive and negative space to create a stylized craft that simultaneously suggests both aviation and space flight.”

Look for it at the end of this inspiring “Space for Everyone” video that gives a nod to “airheads, space cases, flight fanatics, armchair astronauts, and the casually curious.” And to those who are “captivated by the miracle of flight and those who are just happy to make their flight.”

See where you land.