Aviation History: January ’00 From the Editor

9/23/2000 • Aviation History Archives

Increase your involvement in a field that never grows boring–aviation history.

This may be the first issue of Aviation History you are reading–or the 57th if you have been with us since our first issue in September 1990. You may be casually interested in this subject or a real devotee of our aviation heritage. Either way, you can increase your enjoyment of aviation history by keeping it in mind during your daily life.

Many of us are bored by being dragged to yard sales or antique shops. I use the time to browse for aviation-related items, keeping an eye open for aviation artifacts everywhere I go. I once found–and of course bought–a propeller spinner for a Beechcraft turboprop. Why? Why not! I still don’t know what to do with it, but nobody I know has one like it.

New books and prints are always good additions to personal collections. I bought artist’s proof No. 3 of Mud in Your Eye, by James Dietz, and it is now the centerpiece in my office–hanging right below a beautiful wooden propeller my wife gave me. I grabbed an early copy of the Jimmy Doolittle autobiography written with Aviation History contributing editor C.V. Glines and sent it to Doolittle, who autographed it for me six months before he died. It’s another of my treasures.

With another year over and the advent of a new millenium, thoughts begin turning to “let’s do something special” in the year 2000. Here are some activities that may expand your enjoyment and knowledge of aviation history–and provide some fun and interest for your family, too:

Attend an airshow. Excitement for everybody, aeronautical antiques for you.

Visit an aviation museum or any museum that includes aviation artifacts. Keep aviation museums in mind when planning upcoming vacations.

Help a kid build an aircraft model–and teach him or her its history. This is a good wintertime project to help fight cabin fever.

Become an aviation merit badge adviser for the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.

Help someone who has gathered or inherited aviation materials to donate them to a museum or university.

Look for the lists of suggested reading at the end of Aviation History features and read some books. If you have access to the Internet, the same goes for checking out aviation-related articles posted on our Web site at www.thehistorynet.com.

Volunteer at an aviation museum or any museum that needs help putting together an aviation history display.

Last but not least, keep reading Aviation History. We sincerely hope you will stick with us and read more of our offerings in future issues as we continually strive to balance our editorial mix and provide something of interest to every reader in every issue.

Speaking of expanding horizons, I recently started reading a section in another aviation history magazine that takes a critical look at how the impressions of future readers and historians may be affected by the way today’s recorders present facts. In the “Historiography” department of WWI Aero magazine, publisher-editor Leonard E. “Leo” Opdycke challenges his readers to maintain the ability to question the absoluteness of facts presented as pure, historical and cast-in-concrete.

Opdycke states: “I have tried to suggest that the writing of history is always a process of revision, and one has to take into account not only changing sources of information, new files and records which show up, but the larger issues of the overall slant that the historian is involved with in spite of himself. As social and economic and political situations change, and as we get older as a people, our views of the present and the past are always in motion.”

Opdycke notes that the media gets much of the blame for being “basically the source of all the problems, so the errors and slants and misstatements that have happened over the years can easily be attributed [to them],” but he says that it “goes much further than that, and the media people play only a part in it.”

Everyone with a sincere interest in preserving our heritage has a responsibility to read aviation history with an open mind, looking for clues to the writer’s slant on the topics while at the same time striving for a better understanding of the subject.

Arthur H. Sanfelici, Editor, Aviation History