Today's foray into the past began with yesterday's arrival of the last volumes needed to fill my collection of Joseph P. Juptner's "U.S. Civil Aircraft Series", a comprehensive nine-volume set of hardback books that lists all the airplanes granted a U.S. type certificate from when it all started to 1948, when the system was changed. It took Juptner 19 years to put it all together, and it stands as THE authoritative reference source for aviation historians.
As with most all my forays into the past, one search morphs into many searches and I find myself completely immersed in the history of all things aviation. For example, issues of Aviation and Aeronautical Engineering magazine published a broad array of articles having to do with aircraft design, in such depth that this theatre major's eyes glazed over after a short while ... but the subjects were interesting, nonetheless. Early dirigible theory, airfoils, variable camber wings, inflatable wings, powerplants, etc ... all interesting in their quaint sort of way. From the ads, there were a lot of companies that wanted in on the action. I'll throw out a few ads to whet your appetite (click on them to make them bigger) ...
The development of this new aviation technology is a lot like the technology revolution we see today ... many supporting technologies that make the original idea work and work better - in stages. Think both hardware and software in today's world; hardware and more hardware yesterday, but some of the ads are real eye-openers. Do a little digging of your own and look for yourself at the changes in how information was transferred - the faces of instruments, for example, to help pilots and mechanics make sense of the whole thing.
One theme that everybody seemed to agree on was that for airplanes and aviating to take off, the public had to accept that it was more than a stunt, that it might someday be reliable.
There's nothing like a manly man with a tool of some kind in his hand to make us all feel better.
This crate might get off the ground, after all.