Aircraft lands at the Science Museum

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 April 2000




(2000), "Aircraft lands at the Science Museum", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 72 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Aircraft lands at the Science Museum

Aircraft lands at the Science Museum

Keywords: Lockheed, Museums, Exhibitions

The Lockheed Electra Airliner, one of the most beautiful civil aircraft of the 1930s, has today taken its place in the Science Museum, London. The Electra will be part of a new major exhibition, Making the Modern World, which is due to open in June 2000.

Making the Modern World will showcase the pride of the Science Museum's collections, which are the most comprehensive and significant record of the rise of industrial society. The Lockheed Electra will form part of a dramatic sequence of iconic objects spanning the period from 1750 to the present day. These landmark exhibits will represent some of the most important steps in the development of science, technology and industry.

The Electra has been awarded iconic status in this exhibition as one of three aircraft models which were conceived in the 1930s in the USA and mark the birth of the modern airliner. Although jet engines have replaced piston engines and propellers, the basic architecture and constructional techniques of the airliner today still follow the pattern established by influential aircraft such as the Electra. The essential element of these new stressed skin airliners was to make them leaner and more aerodynamic by using the surface skin of aluminum alloy to contribute to strength.

The development of the modern airliner was aided in the USA by long inter-city distances and a powerful business culture as well as government support for an airmail system. In the UK British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was one of the first heads of state to use air transport for shuttle diplomacy, flying three times to Germany in his attempt to avert the Second World War. In September 1938 he returned from a meeting with Hitler in a Lockheed Electra of British Airways.

Details available from Science Museum. Tel: +44 (0) 207 942 4000; Fax: +44 (0) 207 942 4447; Web address:

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