Tomorrow I will be signing books at the Delta Heritage Museum in Atlanta. It will be a day-long event as the museum hosts an airline collectibles event. Vendors will display and sell or trade historic items from more than 75 years of airline and aviation history. I always look forward to any opportunity to discuss my book and to personalize signed copies, but to do so in such a historic setting is even more exciting. The museum is located in Delta’s original Atlanta hangars built in the mid 1940s.
The large hangar in this 1949 photo is now the museum. The photo was taken from a DC-3 (notice the de-ice boots on the leading edge) while crossing Runway 21, which no longer exists. In 1925 this location was the infield of an automobile race track when Atlanta leased the land to open the city’s airport and name it Candler Field after the land’s owner, Asa Candler (founder of Coca-Cola). Tomorrow, I’ll be thinking about the open cockpit air-mail flights that landed here. I’ll be thinking about October of 1927 when “Lucky Lindy” landed the Spirit of St. Louis here while touring the country after crossing the Atlantic. I’ll be looking at the museum’s Waco 125 that was built in 1928 to carry the mail, and the Travel Air and Stinson Reliant that carried passengers in the 1930s. I’ll be thinking about how they navigated by beacons on the night flights. I’ll spend some time with Delta’s first DC-3 that began service in December, 1940 and I’ll wonder where it was a year later when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I’ll marvel at the courage and skill it took to fly the “3” across the country in all kinds of weather with no radar. I’ll wonder if I could have measured up flying the airplane with just a low frequency range to navigate. What was it like before Air Traffic Control and ILS approaches? I’ll pay tribute to all those pioneers who wore the black double breasted jacket with gold buttons and gold stripes and made it possible for me to wear it so many years later, and I’ll be grateful that Delta has never changed the pilot uniform. I hope they never do. I’ll stand beneath the wing of Delta’s first Boeing 767, that is now displayed in the museum, and sign books, and I’ll remember all the hours I sat in the left seat of that airplane, viewing God’s creation from miles above. And I’ll know that in the grand scheme of things, I am insignificant, but extremely grateful.