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“Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight,” the National Air and Space Museum’s recently installed permanent exhibit, highlights the achievements of individuals who helped expand aviation during the industry’s formative era in the 1920s and 1930s. Sure, the obvious names are there—Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart—but the exhibit also recognizes aviators who flew under the radar, so to speak. Bessie Coleman, the first female pilot of African American descent, had to learn to fly in France after American flight schools rejected her because of her race and gender. The exhibit also notes the early skepticism the airline industry encountered: Today we might complain about the nuisance of full-body scans and invasive pat-downs, but back then prospective passengers of this fledgling mode of transportation legitimately feared for their lives.
THE EXHIBIT IS ON VIEW DAILY 10 A.M. TO 5:30 P.M. AT THE NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM, INDEPENDENCE AVE. AND 6TH ST. SW. FREE. (202) 633-2214.