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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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Washington National: 1941

Washington National: 1941

Arlington County, Va., circa 1941. "National Airport. Plane in front of passenger terminal and control tower." Photo by Theodor Horydczak. View full size.

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State of the art relics

When Washington National Airport (DCA) opened in 1941, it offered state of the art aircraft servicing facilities, designed to reduce ramp congestion and shorten turnaround times. Visible in this photo are service pits built into the ramp apron, in proximity to the aircraft's respective service points.

The right (pilot's perspective) landing gear of this DC-3 rests on a six-foot diameter turntable after being guided to this spot by pavement markings and a ground marshaller. This positioning allowed the aircraft to pivot (with the right wheel braked) for a smooth departure towards the taxiway, with minimal stress on the landing gear supported by the turntable.

When a DC-3 was thus parked, it was in the correct position to facilitate various servicing requirements (fuel, oil, electrical, cooling air, and communications, which included a pneumatic tube for written messages between crew and operations agents).

It was a good idea while it lasted, but the explosive growth of civil aviation in the post-war years, with attendant increase of aircraft types, rendered the system impractical, and in short order most servicing facilities were returned to mobile provision.

In areas of the ramp that haven't been completely repaved over the decades, a couple of these abandoned relics are still identifiable by various access doors and turntable plates. Perhaps they were intentionally left in place in keeping with the terminal's status on the National Register of Historic Places.

Eastern Airlines

"The Great Silver Fleet" is the motto above the windows.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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