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Ann Kathleen Otto


Artistic Transformation

Steve Jobs wasn't the first to successfully consider human emotions when marketing a new technology. From the beginning of the aeroplane, art played an important role in capturing the collective imagination.  Through colorful artistic prints, first in Art Nouveau and later Art Deco we can follow the history of early aviation as it was introduced to the general public, first in Europe and then in the United States.  Perhaps no one has a better historic aviation poster collection than Willis "Bill" Allen of Allen Airways Flying Museum, located on Gillespie Field in El Cajon, San Diego County, California.

Looping the Loop

If you love these art periods as I do, you will love Bill Allen and Henry Serrano Villard's Looping the Loop: Posters of Flight (2000), which they wrote and edited. The beautiful coffee table book was published for the Smithsonian Institution Air and Space Museum's exhibit of the same name. Villard, a former American foreign service officer and ambassador, was also an author with an avid interest in early aviation as his narratives in Looping the Loop show. He passed away prior to the book's publication.

Rare Findings

An earlier blog at Yours in a Hurry featured a poster from the first air show at Reims in 1909. You may have seen Bill on Antiques Roadshow with Nicho Lowery when they were filming some of the posters. Nicho pointed out the significance of the Nice 1910 poster (below right) which was the first time the public could see what a pilot sees from the air. The artist included the airplane and pilot as perspective from a significant height viewing the coastline. The roses give a romantic effect.

Another valuable poster the Roadshow featured is one done in 1909 to announce a 1915 Boston exposition that never took place (below left). Its purpose was to promote Boston as a modern city and features a Curtiss aeroplane. It was found in an attic with some Lutheran posters.









You can also find Bill's collection of Hollywood posters based on aviation related films on his website for the museum or at  

Thanks to Bill for sharing his great artwork collection and interesting stories. Hopefully you can visit him at the Allen Airways Flying Museum in San Diego or online.

Next time: What legacy heavier-than-air aviators owe lighter-than-air aeronauts

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