As I wrote in the previous post, the Smithsonian is stuffed with historical objects. Perhaps the most historical and certainly the most iconic of them all is the original Wright Flyer which, on 17 December 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, flew 852 feet in 59 seconds, thus becoming the first heavier than air powered aircraft to make a sustained, controlled flight with a pilot aboard. It is profoundly moving to gaze upon it in all its flimsy glory. Museum-goers can also visit the cockpit of a Boeing 747 (‘Jumbo Jet’) just like the one that brought us from London to New York. It is a reminder of just far and how fast we have come. Sadly, as many of the exhibits at the museum make clear, much progress has been down to military or ideological conflicts of one sort or another. The museum is good on the First World War, in which planes were active – just eleven years after that first powered flight! In particular, there is a very touching interview with the now deceased Arthur Raymond Brooks, a First World War flying ace whose plane, an improbably flimsy SPAD S.XIII, now has pride of place among the Smithsonian’s exhibits.