Airborne Awesomosity

Air & Space Archives: Imperial Flying Boats

In order to break up the Fly Now! poster collection of the Smithsonian Air & Space museum into manageable sections, I tried to find some general categories which I could group the images into. One such category is a type of plane that has always tickled my fancy–the flying boat. Starting today, and over the next few Sundays, we’ll be focusing on these gentle giants. The first group up highlights Imperial Airways, an early British commercial long range air transport company, operating from 1924 to 1939. This airline serviced not only much of Europe, but also the Empire routes to South Africa, India and the Far East.

Quite possibly the largest publicly-held collection of its kind in the United States, the National Air and Space Museum’s posters focus primarily on advertising for aviation-related products and activities. Among other areas, the collection includes 19th-century ballooning exhibition posters, early 20th-century airplane exhibition and meet posters, and twentieth-century airline advertisements.

The posters in the collection represent printing technologies that include original lithography, silkscreen, photolithography, and computer-generated imagery. The collection is significant both for its aesthetic value and because it is a unique representation of the cultural, commercial and military history of aviation. The collection represents an intense interest in flight, both public and private, during a significant period of its technological and social development.

Images all from Fly Now!, cropped and lightly tweaked by yours truly. See the first two installments of the Air & Space Archives at Soda Pop and For Rent.

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