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EAA Young Eagles - Ask the Expert

Question :
What was aviation's role in the 1920's? How did it affect the average American's life, and if did not, how did it affect America as a whole?
 
Answer :
An essay question! Fun!
In the 1920's, aviation had a decided impact on America, and on the way Americans lived and worked.
At the start of the decade, only a couple of years after the end of WW-I, aviation was still very much a fledgling industry. Companies existed to build military airplanes, and a few civilian companies started to make aircraft for commercial use. Airplane manufacturers including Swallow, Waco, and Travel Air all had their start in the 1920s, along with some companies that still exist to this day, including Ryan and Lockheed.

Airplane designs grew from 80 mph biplanes to speedy race planes flying at over 200 mph, and the airline industry, already established in Europe, started flying over the vast United States. Airplanes such as the Stinson, Fokker and Ford tri-motored airliners all were designed and built during the 1920s, but one single event in 1927 caught the attention of every American-Charles Lindbergh's solo crossing of the Atlantic ocean. From youngsters to the elderly, not until the 1969 Apollo 11 mission would the nation be so captivated by one event. Parades, air shows, advertising; if there was a way to tie a product or a service to aviation in the last half of the 1920s, it was done to sell as many items as possible. Many people went for their first airplane flight in a surplus Curtiss Jenny built during WW-I, and many others would attend county fairs and air shows where the airplane and its daring pilot were considered novelties and heroes.

For more information on aviation in the 1920s, I'd suggest the follow Web sites as a good place to start:

http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Commercial_Aviation/1920s/Tran1.htm

http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Evolution_of_Technology/metal_plane/Tech15.htm

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/4294/history/1920_1935.html


H.G. Frautschy
Editor, Vintage Airplane magazine
Executive Director, EAA's Vintage Aircraft Association


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