Author: Julia Lauria-Blum

Julia Lauria-Blum earned a degree in the Visual Arts at SUNY New Paltz. An early interest in women aviation pioneers led her to research the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of WW II. In 2001 she curated the permanent WASP exhibit at the American Airpower Museum (AAM) in Farmingdale, NY, and later curated 'Women Who Brought the War Home, Women War Correspondents, WWII’ at the AAM. Julia is the former curatorial assistant at the Cradle of Aviation Museum and is currently an editorial contributor for Metropolitan Airport News.

The story of commercial air travel, in a heavier-than-air, winged aircraft, began on January 1, 1914, when the world’s first scheduled passenger service took to the skies in a single-engine Benoist flying boat piloted by pioneering aviator Tony Jannus for the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line. That morning, as a crowd of 3,000 gathered at St. Pete’s municipal pier, a ticket for the inaugural round-trip flight to Tampa was auctioned off, and former mayor Abraham Pheil won the honor with a bid of $400. Prior to lifting off from the St. Petersburg waterfront, Pheil climbed aboard the open cockpit biplane and…

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Commercial airlines are in the business of transporting passengers and cargo by air on regularly scheduled routes. In addition to this essential service which keeps people and businesses moving, major commercial airlines sustain charitable giving programs that give back to the communities they serve, both locally and globally. Through a predetermined application process, charitable organizations that receive support are primarily registered as 501(c)3 not-for-profit, and include those that champion education, medical research, disaster relief, conservation and environmental concerns, veteran’s organizations, arts and cultural non-profits, the homeless and food insecure…and the list goes on. Most airlines have programs that are organized…

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The day dawned at 6:33 that morning. Looking east across the Hudson River, the rising sun shone behind the North and South Towers, leaving two vertical silhouettes along the lower Manhattan skyline. As the auburn sky turned a sparkling blue, it revealed a ceiling that was cloudless and visibility unlimited. It was the second Tuesday of September, and it began as many a day before it had – until it was a day like no other. On September 11, 2001, as millions of Americans awoke and began their day; thousands made their way to work at the World Trade Center…

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On December 29, 1940, in a radio broadcast delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the nation, the President promised to help the United Kingdom in the fight against Nazi Germany by producing and furnishing military supplies. During this period, the United States stayed out of the actual fighting. “We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us, this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.” –…

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While Jeff Clyman was flying vintage World War II era aircraft in the 1970s at air shows, he wore his father’s U.S. Army Air Corps A-2 jacket. The A-2 was originally designed for and associated with the pilots, navigators, and bombardiers of WWII. When people began asking Jeff where they could purchase one of their own A-2s, he saw an opportunity to create a business out of his passion for aviation and his knowledge of genuine historic military fashion. As surplus pieces were difficult to find and the demand for them grew, Clyman founded the retail business, Cockpit USA, in…

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Harriet Quimby was once described to me by her biographer and aviation historian, Giacinta Bradley Koontz, as “a woman moving forward with purpose.’’ In Koontz’ book, The Harriet Quimby Scrapbook, The Life of America’s First Birdwoman, 1875- 1912, Quimby’s life story is that of a modern woman living in a not-so- modern age “that touched the fringes of the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, the Ragtime Era, and the new Age of Aviation.” Harriet was born in 1875 on a family homestead in Michigan. In 1888 the Quimbys embarked on a gypsy-like journey west that ultimately landed them in the…

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The sun rose on the morning of October 14, 1947 and U.S. Air Force test pilot, Captain Charles ‘Chuck’ Yeager walked toward a hangar at Muroc Army Air Base for a flight briefing. It was the day of Yeager’s ninth powered flight in a Bell X-1 experimental aircraft from the flat, dry lakebed in the southern California high desert where the first generation of American jets underwent years of rigorous testing. As he strode past the X-1, a flight team flocked over the neon orange aircraft. Designed with a nose shaped like a .50 caliber bullet and powered by a…

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On June 14, 2016, two years after comparing LaGuardia Airport to a ‘Third World country”, Vice President Joe Biden stood at a podium beside New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to praise a $4 billion redevelopment project at the airport’s groundbreaking ceremony. The Vice-President was there to join Governor Cuomo in announcing the complete overhaul of the outdated, overcrowded & decaying ‘vintage’ airport that was originally dedicated in October 1939 as New York Municipal Airport, opening on December 9th of that same year. Shortly thereafter “LaGuardia Field” was tagged on to the name and within a year of its opening, NY…

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On September 18, 1932 pilot, James Banning took off from Dycer Airport, Los Angeles in an orange and black Alexander Eaglerock biplane along with his mechanic Thomas C. Allen, to embark on a historic 3,000 mile journey across the U.S.A in a rickety airplane put together with surplus parts and a sputtering 14-year old Curtiss engine. Zigzagging across the country, through Arizona and Texas, then northeast through Oklahoma, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh, PA, they reached their final destination, touching down in Valley Stream, Long Island after a total of 41 hours and 27 minutes aloft, in a span of 21…

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“I saw the alchemy of perspective reduce my world, and all my other life, to grains in a cup. I learned to watch, to put my trust in other hands than mine. And I learned to wander. I learned what every dreaming child needs to know – that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it.” – Beryl Markham – West With the Night One can imagine that from the first moment humankind gazed skyward, came the yearning to soar with the birds above. Mythic figures and legends were created by early civilizations around…

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