Eighty-six selections from The Museum of Flight’s collection of rare, behind-the-scenes movies have been digitized for the first time and are now online. The films date from World War I to Apollo 13. Most of the films are privately shot footage and home movies that offer surprising views of local culture and aerospace history not available anywhere else. Highlights include home movies of flight attendants at work and leisure circa 1940; making and flying German fighters in 1918; Alaska bush flying the 1940s; Aerocar fun in 1968; and Bill Boeing partying with friends circa 1930.
The digitization was made possible through a Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Information and Library Resources (CLIR) in 2020, and the grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The grant allowed the Museum to digitize a wide selection of 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8mm films from across 18 archival collections and make them accessible on the Museum’s Digital Collections site. All of the films are silent and under 15 minutes. Footage in the Collection also shows the Boeing XB-15, early model rocket launches, the recovery of Apollo 13, 1930s China, Camp Lewis aviation in the 1920s, and airline travel in the 1940s and 1950s.
The digitization project was led by the Museum’s Supervisory Archivist Nicole Davis and Digital Asset Coordinator Ali Lane. After sending the films out for digitization to a company specializing in film preservation, Archives Intern Arabella Matthews cataloged the films to make them widely accessible. Museum volunteers assisted with the identification of aircraft in the footage.
To conduct research using the Museum’s archival and library collections, researchers can make an appointment to come to the Museum’s Dahlberg Research Center or make other inquiries online at:
Founded in 1965, the independent, nonprofit Museum of Flight is one of the largest air and space museums in the world, serving 600,000 visitors annually before the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in 2020. The Museum’s collection includes more than 160 historically significant airplanes and spacecraft, from the first fighter plane (1914) to today’s 787 Dreamliner. Attractions at the 23-acre, 5-building Seattle campus include the original Boeing Company factory, the NASA Space Shuttle Trainer, and a rare exhibition of the rocket engines used to launch Apollo astronauts to the Moon. With a foundation of aviation history, the Museum is also a hub of news and dialogue with leaders in the emerging field of private spaceflight ventures. The Museum’s aviation and space library and archives are the largest on the West Coast. More than 150,000 individuals are served annually by the Museum’s onsite and outreach educational programs. The Museum of Flight is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
The Museum of Flight is located at 9404 E. Marginal Way S., Seattle, Exit 158 off Interstate 5 on Boeing Field halfway between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport. The Museum is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Museum admission for adults is $25. Youth 5 through 17 are $17, youth 4 and under are free. Seniors 65 and over $21. Groups of ten or more: $19 per adult, $12 per youth, $17 per senior. Parking is always free. There is a full lunch menu café operated by McCormick & Schmick’s. For general Museum information, please call 206-764-5720 or visit www.museumofflight.org