Friday, November 12, 2010

More from the Air Force Art Program

T. I. list members and blog readers have shared so much fabulous information I never knew about the U.S. Air Force art program. Earlier this week my friend Ken Steacy sent an email on the subject. As we look at many more examples from the May 1960 issue of National Geographic, here's Ken's take on the topic...


"I'm really enjoying these posts," writes Ken, "I actually have the original NatGeo article, which I had bound along with numerous others on the subject of aviation. The USAF art program is indeed vast, and examples are scattered throughout bases and museums across the country, notably at the USAF museum in Dayton, Ohio and the Air & Space Museum in Washington."


"About twenty years ago, the Smithsonian released a series of laserdisks with their aviation photo archives, including shots of everything in the USAF art collection to date. Each disk had 60-100 thousand images at low to medium resolution, which I laboriously transferred to DVDs during my most recent downsizing effort!"


"NASA also has an art program (of which I was a part, tho I never got an assignment) but they suspended operations for a few years after the Challenger disaster."


"Much of their collection is on display at the visitor's centre in Cape Canaveral, which I got to see after the Star Wars convention this past summer."


"It's a must-do-before-you-die for anyone interested in the space program - just standing under the business end of a Saturn V is worth the price of admission!"


And for those who didn't read the comments on the last post, Chuck Pyle shared some additional info regarding the program. Chuck wrote, "Leif, each chapter or subset of the Society has its regional Air Force Artists Program. Google it as the Air Force has a decent online record of the collection."


"I have had the great pleasure of being on a few of these trips, including being on the flight line as the first Space Shuttle landed. Wow!"


"Other programs include the US Forest Service, and the other service arms of the military."


"One of the great things about the AF Program is that there is NO pressure put on the artists on the events that they cover."


Many thanks to Ken and Chuck for sharing their personal anecdotes about this fabulous program. I'm so impressed that it's been going on for more than half a century!


* Once again, here's a link to the Air Force Art Program's Collection


  1. Good assortment of illustrations this week!I especially like the jungle rescue painting,and the Alex Ross one.I remember them from the Illustrators In America book.It's a treat to finally see them in color.

  2. Thanks Steve; I'm glad I was able to share this stuff because I agree - it is great to see the variety of work by so many well known illustrators ( and some less well known but still terrific). As mentioned at the beginning of the week, its all thanks to my 11-year-old nephew, Will, who rescued the magazine from being used as cut-and-paste material - *whew* - many thanks, Will! :^)