Research Journal

Smithsonian staff conducts research into the history and current practice of navigation. Museum staff will post newly researched materials and developments here. Share your thoughts or ask questions of our researchers.

Journal posts in category: Navigating in the Air

August 23, 2013
From May 22 to May 30, 1932, a remarkable gathering occurred in Rome. The Italian Aero Club held a conference for transoceanic aviators to discuss the implementation of commercial air links between the Americas and Europe. Mussolini’s air minister, Marshal Italo Balbo, led the congress of aviators. The conference hinged on the appropriate routes for transoceanic flights, the infrastructure to support them, and most contentiously, the rights of international access to key air terminals. The most notable feature of the event was the remarkable assemblage of many of the most distinguished aviators of the time.  Read More »
August 1, 2013
The archives of the National Air and Space Museum holds a very unusual map in its collection. Created by the U.S. Navy's Hydrographic Office in 1927, this chart is a potent reminder of the perilous nature of early long distance flight attempts. Aviation forecasters in the office created the chart during the day of October 13 when the "Flying Flapper" (as Ruth Elder had been christened by the newspapers) and her instructor/copilot/ navigator George Haldeman had disappeared without a trace over the central Atlantic. The chart depicts Elder's planned route, weather conditions, and where the plane might have travelled if they had not corrected for drift. As one of the oldest surviving artifacts of aeronautical search and rescue this historic map sheds light on a remarkable story of survival.  Read More »
March 13, 2013
The recent seventy-fifth anniversary of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, stirred up considerable media attention – particularly in light of another expedition to the South Pacific in the hopes of solving the mystery. While the fate of Earhart has enthralled the public since 1937, the story of how Earhart figures into the larger history of air navigation and long-distance flying is often overlooked.  Read More »


Recent Comments

9 years 8 months ago

Wow, lovely website. Thnx ...

10 years 2 months ago

This entry and the accompanying maps is particularly interesting to me as I have recently been doing research into H2X.