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Hub of the Air Universe

As the world celebrates a century of flight, most people have been looking back to the events in Kitty Hawk, NC. However, a new MIT Museum exhibit, Hub of the Air Universe: A Century of Flight in Massachusetts, highlights important aeronautical advances that came out of the Bay State, including the development of radar, the jet engine, and the Apollo spacecraft navigation system.

The exhibit features several artifacts, including six and a half square centimeters of the original fabric that covered the Wright brothers’ Flyer 1, and the frame of Chrysalis, a human-powered airplane built by MIT students and alumni. But most of the exhibit is a wealth of historic news articles and photos from the State Street Bank Collection, created by the bank’s former vice president of public affairs, Ralph Eastman. Since Eastman’s collection isn’t very systematic, curator Deborah Douglas borrowed its haphazard tone when designing the exhibition. “I wanted to recreate that sketchbook feeling,” she says.

Of all the MIT alumni featured in the exhibit, perhaps Jerome Hunsaker, SM ‘12, SCD ‘23, is the most notable. In 1914, he taught MIT’s-and the country’s-first aviation design course and built the nation’s first modern wind tunnel. He also designed the Curtiss NC-4, the first airplane to cross the Atlantic. The exhibition runs until September 5.

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