Fall Exhibition

Knights of the Air: Aviator Heroes of World War I

October 17 - December 31, 2017

 Heroic Pilot RGB 96web

The first museum exhibit devoted to the image of the World War I pilot-hero, Knights of the Air honored the daredevil pilots who risked everything for the cause at the dawn of aviation. Imbued with a sense of adventure and fierce patriotism, aviators became the face of the War efforts back home. Works of art, souvenirs, postcards, and newspapers celebrated their valiant efforts. After the War, the romance of flight was embodied in new types of daring aviators, such as barnstorming aerial acrobats, air mail pilots, and bootleggers. Popular pulp magazines such as George Bruce’s Squadron and Hollywood films like Wings (1927) capitalized on the appeal of the brave World War I aviator, inspiring many future pilots who would serve America in commercial aviation and future military conflicts.

Organized by the Flagler Museum in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I in 1917, Knights of the Air featured works of art, artifacts, and printed materials on loan from the private collection of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf, and other private and public collections.

Guided exhibition tours were offered Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The exhibition and tours were free with Museum admission. The Flagler Museum offered free Museum admission to active duty, reserve, and retired U.S. Military each Wednesday for the duration of the exhibition (proper identification required).

Illustrated Lecture

Exhibition curator Janel Trull presented two illustrated lectures on Veteran’s Day about Knights of the Air: Aviator Heroes of World War I.

The Millionaires’ Unit

A Documentary Film 5:30 pm, Thursday, November 16, Society of the Four Arts, Walter S. Gubelmann Auditorium

This documentary tells the little known but inspiring story of a group of Yale college students from wealthy families who form a private air militia to learn to fly in preparation for WWI. They became the founding squadron of the US Naval Air Reserve. They were the first to fly for America in WWI, some of them making the ultimate sacrifice.

A Q&A with distinguished guests and experts followed the film.

Image caption: Frank Tinsley’s painting of a heroic pilot was used as the cover of the August, 1933, issue of the popular pulp magazine George Bruce’s Squadron: Stories of the War in the Air. Collection of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf.