The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser (first flight: Jul, 1947) was a large, long-range airliner developed from the C-97 Stratofreighter military transport, itself a derivative of the B-29 Superfortress. Boeing’s 377 design was advanced for its day as it featured two passenger decks and a pressurized cabin, however reliability was poor due to problems with the four 28-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major radial engines and control problems with the engine propellers. Only 55 Model 377s were built for airlines, along with a single prototype.
Beginning with the Wright Brothers first successful aircraft in 1903, there has been a need for training pilots without risking the pilots lives and an aircraft in the process. In 1910, the French commanders Clolus and Laffont and Lieutenant Clavenad, built the first aircraft ground training device, the "Tonneau Antoinette" (Antoinette barrel). Thus, began the precursor of flight trainers and ultimately simulators. A flight trainer is a ground-based device that mimics aircraft flight. The most successful early flight trainer was the “Link Trainer”, produced by Edwin Link in Binghamton, New York, starting in 1929. The Link Trainer is a basic metal frame flight trainer usually painted in its well-known blue color.
Ever since military pilots began flying, they needed to carry supplies in case they crash landed or bailed out. During WWI, pilots carried a pistol and a knife; by the start of WWII, aircraft began carrying more sophisticated survival kits. The military quickly learned that when pilots and crew bailed-out, or crawled out of a crashed aircraft, the only supplies they usually carried out was what they had strapped, tied, or worn on their person. The solution, in mid-1943, was the C-1 Survival Vest, designed to carry the supplies needed for individual survival. The C-1 vest continued as the standard survival vest until 1963, when a new 2nd generation Survival Vest, the SRU-21/P, replaced it for all military services.
The Library & Archives has a signed copy of astronaut Euguene (Gene) Cernan’s book, The Last Man on the Moon. The Library’s book is hardcover with a protected dustjacket. Although the book itself is not necessarily remarkable in its rarity or accessibility, our copy is a rare signed edition. It is a First St. Martin’s Griffin Edition, published July 2000. The cover design features a composite image of Gene on the lunar roving vehicle with the waning Earth in the background, and a close up of Gene in his space suit.
Inside the Museum, near the back door to the café, is a glass case with about a dozen aviation-related trophies. Most of them represent some of the most important air races flown: the Harmon Trophy, the Gordon Bennet International Race Trophy, and the Bendix Trophy. This small display is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the number of trophies that the Museum has in its collection. Three of these are the Bendix Trophies that belonged to aviation super-precision pilot, Paul Mantz.