Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


FLYING WOULD have seemed magical to that earliest generation of viewers—including artists. Here’s a sampling of several books that display this. Each is listed at either or


The Legend of the Skies: Images and Objects from the World of Aviation, text by Pascal Ory, translated from the French by Barry Tuleet, Hoëbeke-Paris, 1991.

This large-format (9 in. x 12 in.) 164-page book offers images from the earliest days to a flying-helmeted Snoopy drawn by Charles M. Schulz.


Watercolor of a World War I Caudron G-3, from L’Illustration (“The History of Aeronautics”). Image from The Legend of the Skies. I love the airy Impressionism of this one.

The book includes paintings, posters and photographs as well as other art. Pascal Ory’s text is très drôle. Commenting on an aerial wedding, “The officiating priest is rather less sure-footed than the groom: a touch of anticlericalism?”


An aerial wedding. The pilot/engine layout suggests this is a Wright. Image from The Legend of the Skies.

The Swiss/German artist Paul Klee, 1879-1940, worked in a variety of media and styles, Cubism, Expressionism and Surrealism. His links to aviation are both purely artistic—and a result of military assignment.


Paul Klee: Und Ich Flog, catalog of the Deutsches Museum, Daimler-Benz Aerospace, 1997, paperbound, in German.

“Und Ich Flog,” German for “And I flew,” is reproduced on the cover of this catalog in Klee’s own handwriting. The cover also shows his 1918 Vogelflüge (horizontal und vertikal), ink and watercolor on paper. Its title is German for “birdflights,” though it also evokes Icarus soaring perilously close to the sun.


Kakendaemonish, watercolor, gesso on cardboard, 1916. Image from Paul Klee: Und Ich Flog.

Klee was a natural draftsman, stationed during World War I at Oberschleissheim—where he applied camouflage to repaired aircraft. The site is a wonderful aircraft museum now,


This Halberstadt CL.IV resides at the Oberschleissheim Airfield, just north of Munich and part of the Deutsches Museum. Image from Paul Klee: Und Ich Flog. Compare its camouflage pattern with Kakendaemonisch above.

Posters have been part of aviation art and advertising since the very beginning. Looping the Loop displays this in 102 plates, each in 9 in. x 12 in. four-color format, complete with documentation on artist, date, printer and other details.


Looping the Loop: Posters of Flight, text by Henry Serrano Villard and Willis M. Allen, Jr., foreward by Jack Rennert, Kales Press, 2000.

The book’s cover shows Meeting d’Aviation Nice, by Charles Léonce Brossé, 1910. The aeroplane is whimsical in its detailing; the control wheel could be a Blériot cloche.


Grande Semaine d’Aviation de la Champagne, Reims, by E. Montaut, 1909, celebrates the world’s first air meet, the “Great Week of Aviation.” Image from Looping the Loop.

E. Montaut set a high standard for aviation and automotive poster art. The Reims air meet delineated aero pioneers—those who flew before or at the event—from those learning to fly after it.


First in America Aviation Meet Los Angeles, artist unknown, 1910. Image from Looping the Loop.

Less than five months after Reims, America’s first air meet was held in Los Angeles, just south of where LAX is today. Because of on-going lawsuits involving patents, the meet was not without controversy (see

Despite a Wright Flyer figuring prominently in the poster, it was a French pilot, Louis Paulin, who starred at the meet.

This brings our art and aviation to 1910. There’s plenty more of each to come. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2013

3 comments on “THE ART OF EARLY FLIGHT

  1. Bill Urban
    January 31, 2013

    Dennis, many thanks for gathering these beautiful, whimsical images in one place for our enjoyment. Good work as usual. (Expand the aerial wedding and take in the idyllic pastoral setting below, complete with earthbound “wedding party”.) In fact all should be expanded. Is that Halberstadt sporting an exposed valve train, or individual valve covers? And how about those camouflaged disc wheels . . .

  2. Marguerite Beaulieu
    October 3, 2016

    I bought the Reims poster at a science museum in London, in 1994. Since then, I’ve been to the Reims Prunay Airport several times, and taken a pilot’s licence. At my flying club, we’re always talking about why we fly.

    For me it has never changed: the ultimate beauty of everything connected with flight. The art of flight has always been an intrinsic part of the love affair.

    Thank you for this website; it’s a pure joy. I hope you have also seen the book called “Leonardo on Flight”?

    Still love my Reims poster; now I know a little more about why…


    • simanaitissays
      October 3, 2016

      Many thanks for your kind and thoughtful words. I must seek out “Leonardo on Flight.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on January 29, 2013 by in Vintage Aero and tagged , , , .
%d bloggers like this: