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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Air Circus: 1923

Air Circus: 1923

Sept. 24, 1923. Watching the planes at the Bolling Field Air Circus in Washington, D.C. National Photo Company collection, View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Spectacular Air Stunts

Washington Post, Sep 24, 1923

20,000 Cheer Army Fliers In Spectacular Air Stunts

Parachute Jumps Thrill Spectators as Noted Aviators Perform at Bolling Field - 140 Miles an Hour Made in Race

Every stunt known to an airplane was performed yesterday afternoon by a squadron of the army's greatest pilots at the Arm Relief Society carnival at Bolling field.

Twenty thousand persons lined the edges of the field and cheered the accomplishments. Parachute jumps from a height of 1,500 feet by Corpl. R.E. Maust, of Bolling field, and Sergt. J. Strosnider, of Langley field, Va., afforded the crowd the greatest thrill of the day.

Taking their positions on either wing of a Martin bomber, the daredevils waved greetings to the crowd as the plane twice circled the field in climbing to the altitude from which the jumps were to be made. A gasp was audible over the entire field as the men leaped from the plane and lurched downward about 40 feet before they were slowed by the opened parachutes. Both landed easily after opening their additional "umbrellas."

Sky-Writing on Program

The program was opened with a demonstration of sky-writing by Lieut. Wendell H. Brookley in a V.E. 7 special airplane. Leiut. Brookley, after inscribing the letters "D. C." across the heavens, dashed back and forth across the field, dragging the trail of smoke from his special engines into several "figure 8s" and other intricate designs.

A low-flying observation formation of five planes, piloted by Lieuts. H.W. Beaton, L.M. wolfe, L.. Maitland, Talcott P. Smith and St. Clair Street followed the skywriting.

Three races over the 5-mile course above Bolling field were staged by three classes of planes. The first, a 15-mile affair for SE-5 pursuit planes, was won by Lieut. L.M. Wolfe, with Lieut. C.W. Steinmetz a close second. Sergt. D.G. Warner was third and last. No official times were announced, but it was said the racers were hitting it up to 135 to 140 miles an hour. A second 15-mile race for VE-7 planes was won Lieut. L.P. Arnold. Lieut. Street was second and Lieut. Maitland third.

A 30-mile race for Martin bombing planes was won by Maj. J.B. Reynolds at an average speed of about 75 miles an hour.

Huge Bombing Attack

The accuracy with which the air fighters employ bombs was exhibited when a bombardment formation of three planes attacked a hut at one end of the field, scoring several direct hits. The planes were piloted by Lieuts. Wilkens and Beaton and Capt. W.C. Coker. The bombers were Lieut. T.P. Smith and Sergts. L. Hukill and J. Gilbert.

One of the most spectacular and interesting features of the program was the smoke screen laid by Pilot Lieut. J.M. Davies and Operator Capt. R.C. Weaver. The demonstration represented the latest development in the laying of screens from airplanes. The program was concluded with a review of the present types of aircraft used by the army air service. ...

Bolling AFB

I was stationed at Bolling AFB from 1985-1989, one of my more enjoyable tours. In fact, my office was located, oh, about right center in this photograph, where the little girl in white is standing. No, really; honest. I’m pretty sure. :-)

Denny Gill
Chugiak, Alaska

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