Case Western Reserve University has announced a digital collection of National Air Races and aviation films covering 1928-1939. From the announcement: “The National Air Races began in 1920 and by the 1930s had become a major public event comprised of closed-course pylon races, most notably the Thompson Trophy Race, cross-country derbies, and a variety of aviation-related exhibitions, both flight and static. Cleveland first hosted the races in 1929. The city remained the primary locus for the event (with the exception of 1930, 1933, 1936 and the war years, 1940-1945) until 1949.” The collection is available here (sorry, really ugly URL).
The collection is small (23 items) but the reason I’m covering it here is what it includes. Names you’ll recognize here include Charles Lindbergh, but more interesting is the “candid” footage you’ll find here. The first film I looked at went from a newsreel about Lindbergh and 1926 aviation disasters to a family snowball fight and then a horse ride from what looks to be the same time period (these were family-donated films and family scenes were digitized right along with the aviation footage.) Other scenes included in the film include factory construction of monoplanes (and women working in airplane construction long before WWII), balloon races from the mid-1930s, and … is that the Goodyear Blimp?
The collection is best browsed; the descriptions for each item are minimal and appear to get even more minimal as you go down the list of available films. Each item’s page includes citation information but also — very cool — a link to download the video. These are not tiny files — all the ones I looked at were over 600MB — but this could come in useful especially when you’re trying to get a better view of an odd vehicle or factory scene that shows up on the screen for only a second or two. A great browse.