Honor Flight Special: 120 Years of American Aviation Display by Ron Cole

Own & display Kittyhawk-flown linen from the original 1903 Wright Flyer, mission-flown aluminum skin from the famous B-17F 'Memphis Belle', and mission-flown titanium from SR-71 Blackbird 'Super Skater'.



To honor America's senior veterans with a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the nation's memorials. To help them share their stories.

To celebrate and affirm their service and homecoming.


Ron Cole is offering this very special 24 x 18-inch historic aviation relic display for this very special and timely cause. 

This large display celebrates 120 years of American aviation history & innovation by incorporating 1.5 x 1.5-inch sections of skinning from all three of these most important American-made machines of the air with the original artwork of each aircraft by aviation artist Ron Cole.  

History of this material from the 1903 Wright Flyer:

The 1903 Flyer was the first manned heavier-than-air powered and controlled aircraft - the first airplane - to fly. Designed and built by Wilbur and Orville Wright, it first flew from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17th, 1903. The flyer was in storage in Dayton in 1913 when a flood damaged the machine’s linen covering. Pending a tour of Europe, the Wrights recovered the flyer with all new material, but saved the original linen.
In the 1930s, George B. Jarrett, owner and operator of the Steel Pier Amusement Company and The Jarrett Museum of World War History, obtained some of this original linen from Ivonette Wright Miller, who was the Wright family historian until her passing in 1995. In 1937, Jarrett shared some of this material with Robert (Bob) Boehme and mentioned that he'd obtained it from 'Ivonette Miller (Wright)'.  
Original letter from Col. George Jarrett describing Wright Flyer material. A copy of this letter will be included with each display. 
After the passing of Robert Boehme in 2012, Ron Cole and Cole's Aircraft obtained most of the latter's aviation collection in 2022.
Each framed display is 8.5x11-inches and is signed & numbered. Each piece of linen is slightly larger than .5x.5-inches and retains stains and rust spots from the Dayton 1913 flood.  
History of this aluminum skin from the Memphis Belle:
This aircraft needs no introduction; probably one of the most famous aircraft of World War II, and certainly the best-known of the war's most famous aircraft, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress'. 

'Memphis Belle' was one of the first heavy bombers, among tens of thousands, to complete 25 combat missions in the war. Her exploits, and the experiences of her crew (though the aircraft was flown in combat by more than a single crew), have been chronicled in many Hollywood films. The aircraft itself was saved from scrapping by the City of Memphis after the war. She was displayed out of doors for many years, during which these pieces of aluminum skin were acquired, by the Memphis Belle Memorial Foundation, which periodically repaired damage to the airframe. These pieces of skin were from the original aircraft, and not later, replacement, material. The B-17 was recently restored by the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, where she is beautifully preserved and on permanent display. 

These pieces of aluminum skin deserve some description. Roughly 1x1.5 inches in size, the metal has been stripped of its exterior paint in the past, though retains some original zinc chromate on the reverse side. Each piece has at least one rivet hole, and the remains of the raised rivet impression (somewhat unique among military aircraft of the time).  

History of this titanium from SR-71 'Super Skater': 

The SR-71 Blackbird entered service with the United States Air Force in 1964 and began development in 1958. It remains the fastest aircraft ever built. Over 90% of the SR-71 was made of titanium, a rare material at that time. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was tasked to obtain titanium from the world’s most plentiful source - the Soviet Union, the country which the SR-71 was being built to spy on. Through shell companies, the CIA purchased material through Third World countries, and shipped the raw ore to the United States for processing and SR-71 production.

This aircraft was lost on 17 June 1970 following a re-fueling collision with a KC-135Q (59-1474) tanker. Lt. Col. Buddy L. Brown and his RSO Maj. Mortimer J. Jarvis both ejected and survived the crash. The KC-135 made it back to Beale AFB, California with a damaged refueling boom and aft fuselage. Super Skater crashed into the desert. These pieces were recovered from the crash site in June 2013 by Zane Harwell, from whom these parts were directly obtained. The vast majority of the aircraft was removed from the site by the government in 1970, but these few pieces of wreckage remained.  

Further information:

This display is handmade on 24 x 18-inch matte canvas, mounted in a black open frame. Signed by the artist. Ready to hang. 




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