The title of poet of the skies could easily be given to French pilot Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry. The author of the fantastical story The Little Prince also gave us several dramatic flight books, such as Night Flight, Southern Mail, and Wind, Sand and Stars. They are, from what I hear, as contemplative as they are adventurous.
These early exhilarating and dangerous days of flight appeal to many… even those who, like me, aren’t particularly fond of flying.
One sunny September afternoon last year, I took myself and my camera to an Antique Air Show. Overdue for a photo expedition, I followed my interest in antique machines of every kind and set about making a photo essay of all these wonderful old airplanes. I even discovered a few antique automobiles thrown in for good measure (P.S. Isn’t that bright blue one a beauty! I have always wanted a 1930s car.)
The Air Show was hosted by the Historic Flight Foundation (then in Mukilteo, now moving to Spokane). It was founded “with the intention to collect, restore, and share significant aircraft from the period between the solo Atlantic crossing of Charles Lindbergh and the first test flight of the Boeing 707”. So, 1927 to 1957.
Finding a wide variety of planes to look at – parked at scattered intervals, with descriptive signs and docents roaming about – some were from their very own collection, some flown in by friends of the foundation. I was intrigued by the number of stunningly elegant and extraordinarily strange looking aircraft that rumbled their way toward the runway, lifting off for a tour of the skies around Paine Field. Most of these beauties can still fly.
I saw war planes, passenger planes, commercial planes, and all manner of odd and marvelous propellers, paint jobs, cockpits, and architectural details on these historic aircrafts.
The 1929 strawberry red and white biplane below was my favorite, which will feature in Part 2.