Behind the Scenes of Aviation (Dec, 1938)

I just love the pictures in these color sections Popular Mechanics used to have. I think they are all hand colored, but I’m not sure.

Behind the Scenes of Aviation

LITTLE by little, aviation engineers are revolutionizing the art of flying. Today’s big transports are vastly improved over those of only a year or two ago although an untrained eye can hardly spot the differences. Scores of slight improvements in power plants, instruments and construction have materially increased efficiency.

Behind the scenes the engineers are working on other improvements. “Within five years we will be wondering how we ever got along without the many improvements in radio alone which are now being developed,” one of them remarks. “Within that time passenger transports will be landing on schedule in zero-zero weather. Among other new instruments in the control room, the pilot probably will have a height indicator to tell him the exact distance down to the ground. Planes will be carrying heavier loads farther and faster due simply to numerous small improvements which are constantly being made.”

Gas Balloons Become Freight Cars in Russian Sky Train (Sep, 1935)

Gas Balloons Become Freight Cars in Russian Sky Train

BY USING an airplane for a locomotive and balloons for freight cars, Russian aviators hope to solve the problem of carrying freight cheaply by air, a factor much sought for in Russia because of the vast areas isolated from railroads, highways and waterways.

Berlin-New York Round Trip Takes Less Than Two Days (Nov, 1938)

For some reason this reminds me of a scene from Johnny Dangerously where Danny DeVito is trying to bribe the D.A. and one of the things he offers him is a new automatic oven that can “cook a turkey in less than a day!”.

Berlin-New York Round Trip Takes Less Than Two Days

Forty-four hours and forty-six minutes from Berlin to New York and back again. Eight thousand miles over land and ocean in a four-motored land plane. That was the record written into the aviation books by the German air liner “Brandenburg” which, with its crew of four, made the first westward crossing of the Atlantic nonstop from the German capital to New York and then turned around to beat the previous record for the eastbound trip.


BLIMPS GO AFTER FISH—finny as well as tin. Mindful of the necessity of a continuing sea-food supply, the U. S. Navy is co-operating with the Office of the Co-ordinator of Fisheries by having its sub-hunting blimps shortwave the location of schools of fish to interested vessels in the area. Patrolling blimps easily spot quarry that fishermen operating on the surface of the water might miss or take hours to locate.

Crib Clips to Baggage Rack (Sep, 1953)

Crib Clips to Baggage Rack
Baby gets an upper berth all to himself in this new rig under test by British Overseas Airways. Made of metal and plastic cloth, the crib has a side flap that clips up to hold baby safely in.

Machine GUNNER SITS SUSPENDED Under Plane (Sep, 1932)


PILOTS of combat planes in the World war were acutely conscious of the fact that their ships had a “blind spot” in which they were peculiarly vulnerable to attack by the enemy. This spot included the underpart of the tail and rear section of the fuselage, which could not be defended by machine gun fire from the cockpit for the reason that the gunner would have to fire through his own plane.



WHAT we want,” the public-utilities official stated, “is an auxiliary engine that will help our construction trucks and trailers climb up into the mountains. The loaded vehicles weigh 33 tons and right now we grind along at six miles per hour. We want to get up those grades at 45 miles per hour.”

The Aerojet engineer thumbed his slide rule for a moment and grinned.

“We have just the thing,” he commented. “Five hundred horsepower in a package 18 inches square. How’s that? Turn the auxiliary power on at the foot of the grade and cruise along as fast as you want. Only trouble is, you can’t afford it. At $2.50 per gallon, fuel will cost about $1200 per trip.”


When the Navy’s new airship Macon takes off or lands at the Akron Municipal Airport, Ohio, activities of the ground crew are directed by means of a sound truck that amplifies the voice of the mooring officer so it is audible to every man on the handling lines. This system was particularly valuable during early practice flights, when a slight hitch in carrying out commands might have proved disastrous.

Winged Rail Car Rides on Air (May, 1939)

Winged Rail Car Rides on Air
CAPTIVE airplanes with clipped wings would hurtle across country at more than six miles a minute, in a “flying-railway” system proposed by a European engineer. His scheme calls for a giant new type of streamline passenger car, having stubby wing surfaces and a body like the fuselage of an airplane. At low speeds, as in starting and stopping, the vehicle rolls along standard rails on flanged wheels at front and rear.

Airmen Test Asbestos Suits (Sep, 1938)

Doesn’t this look like a Beastie Boys video?

Airmen Test Asbestos Suits
CLAIMED to provide considerable protection against the danger of flames from an airplane afire in mid-air, asbestos flying suits are being tested by pilots of the British Royal Air Force. The suits are light in weight and, as can be seen from the photo, do not restrict physical movement.