Fun (& Educational) Times with Aviation Journals

It’s no secret that one of our major collecting areas is aviation history. You probably knew that we have many manuscript collections and books related to aviation. But did you know that we also have thousands of issues of aviation journals?

One aisle of our aviation journals, Feb. 2014

One aisle of our aviation journals, Feb. 2014

Our aviation journals are all listed in the library catalog. You can find them by searching for a particular title or Library of Congress Subject Heading Aeronautics–Periodicals (click the link to see a list of the journals).

A couple of weeks ago, Dawne Dewey, Head of Special Collections & Archives brought the students from her Dayton’s Aviation Heritage (UH 4000) class into the Archives to browse through some of our many aviation journals to see if they could find any entries pertaining to Dayton. Many did!  Here are two anecdotes that the students came across, one of which pertains to Dayton and one of which does not:

Be Careful What You Say to “Mike”

This story, from the July 1924 issue of Slipstream, discusses an early test of ground to air radio transmissions at McCook Field in Dayton. In order to ensure that the transmission was still working, the pilot had to talk constantly. When he tired of thinking up things to say on his own, he began to sing “London Bridge is falling down.” A nearby civilian happened to hear part of this transmission on her home radio and became concerned. You can read the full article below to find out why:

Be Careful What You Say to Mike, Slipstream 5:6 (July 1924), 22, from MS-53 Fred Marshall Papers 8:3.

“Be Careful What You Say to Mike,” Slipstream 5:6 (July 1924), 22, from MS-53 Fred Marshall Papers 8:3.

The lady who overheard the transmission thought the pilot himself was “falling down.” As the article states at the end: One really should be extremely careful in the use of the radio.

Another reason it was interesting that the student happened to find this item was that we have a photograph in our Local History Photograph Collection—indeed, a copy of it hangs on the wall of one of our office cubicles—showing men testing ground to air radio transmissions during World War I, and the scene probably looked quite similar!

Men testing ground-to-air radio transmissions during World War I, undated, from the Local History Photographs collection. This copy hangs on the walls of our offices.

Men testing ground-to-air radio transmissions during World War I, undated, from the Local History Photographs collection. This copy hangs on the walls of our offices.

The other really interesting find came from an issue of Aerial Age Weekly in 1927.

A Few Hints for the Would-Be Aviator by Richard S. Rogers

This article, clearly meant as a joke only, consists of a number of pieces of “advice” for wannabe pilots, which real pilots would certainly find humorous. Most of them seem to involve recommending that the pilot do something completely ridiculous, for an even more ridiculous reason. But they certainly are amusing!

Richard S. Rogers, "A Few Hints for the Would-Be Aviator," Aerial Age Weekly 12:3 (Sept. 27, 1920), 88.

Richard S. Rogers, “A Few Hints for the Would-Be Aviator,” Aerial Age Weekly 12:3 (Sept. 27, 1920), 88.

I think my favorite one is: “Always put a sack over the gas tank so if it explodes you will have the parts.”

What’s yours?

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