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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • A CHRISTMAS JOKE WITH A POINT TO IT

Aeronaut: 1910

Aeronaut: 1910

New York or vicinity circa 1910. "J.M. Johnson in Bleriotype." The aviator: dashing. His attire: natty. Bain News Service glass negative. View full size.

 

Loving That Fuel Tank in the Lap Feeling

I learned to fly in the famous bright yellow Piper J-3 Cub. Well, mine wasn't too famous but you get my drift. Right in front of the J-3 windshield and not too far from your lap is its 12-gallon fuel tank, with what I always thought was something demonstrating the Cub's brilliant simplicity, its fuel gauge. This is just a cork that floats on top of the fuel, with an inverted L-shaped piece of wire that sticks up through the gas cap, in front of your face, on the outside of the windscreen on top of the engine cowling. The higher the wire, the closer you were to the Cub's maximum flight time, which was about 2.5 hours. I think it was the superb pilot Bob Hoover (q.v. Google) who said the J-3 is a slow plane that can only go just fast enough to kill you, and a look at my Shorpy profile might suggest I did my best to support that theory.

Here I am, Tailspin Donny, early 1960s. Yes, I am wearing gray suede shoes, and yes, this was the under-the-bridge ride mentioned in my profile. I've marked the barely-visible thin vertical fuel gauge. Kick the tires, light the fires, and let us slip the surly bonds of Earth! Well, more or less.
Re "Interesting wheel/sled combo": That upturned "sled" actually is there to help minimize nosing over while rolling on the ground. The tube is part of the landing gear assembly and if it just extended straight rather than being bent up, the pilot could dig the Mother of All Divots.

Chocks Away!

WHOP pfft pfft/
WHOP pfftpfftpfftpfft WHOP WHOP pfft WHOP pfft WHOPadaWHOPWHOPWHOPWHOPBARRRRRRpfft BAARRRRRpop BARRRRRRRR BARRRR BARRRRRRR pfftpftt BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Interesting Wheel / sled combo.

Inspirational

I always wondered where W. Heath Robinson got his inspiration.

Netting with purpose

Hats with netting really took off (pardon the pun) with the advent of motor cars and aeroplanes. Women needed not just a method of keeping their hats on their heads (and by extension, their hair untangled) but dirt - and, on occasion, engine oil - out of their faces and their mouths in open cars and cockpits. The fancy netting on their hats served this purpose.

Men only had their goggles and their flying hats.

The Daring Young Man

While the poseur sits in his flying machine, Evelyn Nesbit waits for her lover to grow up.

Watch out for the zombie!

There appears to be a mummy trying to secretly hitch a ride on the tail section.

The Arrow Collar Man

J. C. Leyendecker would be proud!

Who knew

Charles Grodin was interested in aviation.

Bees to meet you

Not introduced is the attendant who appears to have a hornet's nest stuck on its head.

No smoking when the sign is lit

Is that the fuel or oil tank positioned in front of the pilot's seat? Yipe!

Great place for a gas tank

Right in your lap. Of course in the (likely) event of a crash the shaft of that backwards steering wheel will go right through your heart and you'll be dead long before the fire starts. Happy flying!

Chewing gum and baling wire

The old quip "held together with chewing gum and baling wire" must surely have its inspiration in this aircraft.

The fuel tank

In his lap!

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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