Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum
1926; sport biplane; red & silver
The Museum's eye-catching Verville Sportsman AT open-cockpit biplane is the sole survivor of the ten aircraft of the type built in the early 1930s. It was the last of the production airplane designs to come from the fertile mind of the inventive genius Albert Victor Verville, whose lifetime service in many government aviation roles earned him the citation "Elder Statesman of Aviation." Assessing the airplane market of the late 1920s, Verville saw the need for a rugged training biplane for both military and civilian markets, as well as for affluent sportsmen pilots. Unfortunately, like so many airplanes of the depression era, its high price forced the end of production before the aircraft could establish a market foothold.
In 1958, Alfred Verville initiated a search for the Sportsman aircraft in his desire to see it donated to the Smithsonian's National Air Museum. After locating one from William Champlin, Jr., president of Skyhaven Inc. in Rochester, New Hampshire, Champlin responded favorably to Verville's request and it arrived at the Museum in 1963.
The Museum's eye-catching Verville Sportsman AT open-cockpit biplane is the sole survivor of the ten aircraft of that type built in the early 1930s. It was the last of the production airplane designs to come from the fertile mind of the inventive genius Alfred Victor Verville.
The Sportsman AT was derived from a long line of Verville designs that started with his first airplane while working for Glenn Curtiss in 1915. He then became Chief of Design in the U.S. Air Service Engineering Division at McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio, and made many contributions to aircraft design, including the welded steel tube fuselage. In the early 1920s, his Verville-Packard and Verville-Sperry racing airplanes each won the coveted Pulitzer Race. After leaving the Air Service in 1925 he teamed with Lawrence Buhl to form the Buhl-Verville Aircraft Company of Detroit, Michigan and the Buhl-Verville J-4 Airster, a commercially oriented open-cockpit biplane that was granted the first Approved Type Certificate (ATC No. 1) to be issued for a civilian airplane by the newly formed Bureau of Air Commerce. Verville then sold his share of Buhl-Verville and formed the Verville Aircraft Company in 1928 to manufacture the Verville Air Coach, a high-wing cabin monoplane. The sleek lines of this attractive four-place cabin airplane had considerable influence on the design of the Sportsman AT airplane. Unfortunately, as with many aircraft companies at that time, the Depression of the early 1930s forced the closure of Verville's factory in 1932 after having built only 10 Sportsman AT airplanes. He then joined the Bureau of Air Commerce as chief of the civil aircraft certification branch. His lifetime service in many government aviation roles earned him the citation "Elder Statesman of Aviation."
In assessing the airplane market of the late 1920s, Verville saw the need for a rugged training biplane for both military and civilian markets as well as for use by the more affluent sportsmen pilots of the day. The resulting design was the Sportsman AT and its companion YPT-10A military trainer, introduced in May 1930. The AT was a tandem two-place, open-cockpit biplane, strong but with the excellent flight and stability characteristics that were necessary for its role as a trainer. In its sports version, the roomy well-equipped cockpit was upholstered in leather and the airplane had a battery, self-starter and navigation lights. A seven-cylinder 165 hp Continental A-70 radial engine, equipped with a ground adjustable metal propeller along with its aerodynamic design, gave the Sportsman excellent short-field and climb performance but a modest top speed of only 120 mph. It sold for about $5,500 in 1931, a rather expensive airplane in Depression days when a Ford automobile sold for less than $500. Unfortunately, like so many airplanes of that era, the high price forced closure of the company before it could establish a market foothold.
The fabric-covered fuselage was of welded chrome-moly tubing with wood formers and fairing strips to provide the pleasing shape. The wings had spruce spars and built-up spruce and plywood ribs. The leading edges were faired with sheet aluminum with Friese ailerons located on the lower wing panels. The fuel tank was located in the upper wing center section and the entire wing assembly was fabric covered. The tail assembly was of welded chrome-moly tubing and was fabric-covered. The main landing was split-axle type with hydraulic shock struts and was equipped with balloon wheels and brakes. It had a full-caster tail wheel that incorporated a shock strut for better control during ground operation.
The Sportsman AT NC-457M was the eighth production aircraft and is the only remaining one of the 10 built. Samuel Adams, Jr. of Shields, Pennsylvania bought the aircraft on September 15, 1930. W. Rhodes McCaskey of Pittsburgh bought it in 1934 and sold it to Ronald Chappell of Dearborn, Michigan, in 1935. Chappell flew it until February 1948, when Robert Baxter agreed to purchase the aircraft; however Baxter defaulted on the payment and Chappell repossessed the aircraft. Chappell then sold the Verville to Richard McPherson of Michigan in 1953 and then he sold it to Robert Francis Gillis, Lynn, Massachusetts, in October of that year. By March 1955, William Champlin, Jr., President of Skyhaven Inc. of Rochester, New Hampshire, acquired the aircraft.
In 1958, Alfred Verville initiated a search for Sportsman aircraft and, in January 1960, received a letter from Champlin confirming that he had Sportsman NC-457M in storage at Skyhaven Airport. Champlin responded favorably to Verville's desire to see the aircraft donated to the Smithsonian's National Air Museum and NC-457M arrived on April 18, 1963.
overall: 27 1/4 in x 9 1/4 in x 1 1/2 in; 69.215 cm x 23.495 cm x 3.81 cm
racket and cover
tennis racket and cover
This broken-stringed Wilson racket once belonged to Chris Evert (b. 1954), one of the top female tennis players in the 1970s and 1980s. Evert's determined attitude, her steady baseline playing style, and her powerful two-hand backhand made her an extremely successful competitor. She won more than 100 titles and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995.
Highlights from the Culture and the Arts Collection
Family & Social Life
Sports & Leisure
Artifact Walls exhibit
Sports & Leisure
From the Pittsburgh Steelers Football Team through Daniel M. Rooney, President
This ball was used in Super Bowl XIV, held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on January 20, 1980. In the game, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Los Angeles Rams 31-19. It was the Steelers' fourth Super Bowl win and the second straight year that Terry Bradshaw took home the Most Valuable Player trophy.
The Wilson Sporting Goods Company introduced the Wilson Duke football during the early 1940s. Wilson has provided the official ball for the National Football League's Super Bowl since Super Bowl II in 1968.
overall: 4 7/16 ft x 5 15/16 ft x 14 13/16 ft; 1.346 m x 1.8032 m x 4.5211 m
United States: Georgia, Albany
Sports & Leisure
Gift of Morrison Motorsports, Inc.
Few private owners, and only extremely wealthy ones, campaigned cars in the top sports car races in Europe. As a result of the European influences toward more specialized engineering for the best sports cars, the "prototype" racing classes emerged in the US for the fastest, most powerful US and European-built sports cars - none of which were street legal by any stretch.
In this context, professional sports car racing became more popular by the 1970s. Later, organizations such as the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) organized professional races for prototype sports cars and high-powered "GT" sports coupes.
The Corvette ZR-1 No. 92 was built specially by Tommy Morrison Motorsports in 1990 for racing in the IMSA "GTO" class. General Motors provided backing and technical services; the major financial sponsors were Mobil Oil and EDS. The car is one of several built "from the ground up" as race cars. The tubular space frame resembles that of a modern NASCAR racer; the body follows the Corvette ZR-1's lines exactly but was designed to fit the custom-built frame. The modified Chevrolet V-8 engine was developed by the Mercruiser Corp. The all-independent suspension is that of a production ZR-1 Corvette, with special springing and shock absorbers for racing.
No. 92 placed 4th in class in the 1991 Daytona 24-hour endurance race, on Daytona's "road course" that uses multiple corners on the big track's infield combined with part of the high banking used by NASCAR racers. The 92 also placed 6th in class in the 1991 Sebring 12-hour endurance race, held at the historic sports car track in Sebring, FL, that still uses a portion of a World War II-era concrete airfield in its circuitous course. Even finishing these endurance races is an accomplishment, and 4th and 6th places, out of the large fields of competing cars, are regarded as highly successful.
Another of Morrison's ZR-1's set the world speed record for a 24-hour run, averaging some 174 mph.
Sports-car racing was a post-World War II phenomenon in the US. While racing by stock cars, sprint cars, and dragsters attracted fans of generally middle-class and more modest means, sports-car racing attracted young car-owners and fans primarily of wealthier means. This relationship stemmed from the pronounced cachet that went with European automotive engineering from the late 1930s through the 1960s.
Ex-servicemen who had been based in England began bringing British sports cars to American soil in 1948. Auto dealerships selling such makes as MG, Triumph, and Jaguar - and Porsche from Germany and Alfa-Romeo from Italy - opened in the US for the first time. These cars were typical of European engineering for two-door performance cars: light, agile, many with small or medium-sized engines compared to general US custom, and right at home on curving, twisting roads where a driver could test his or her cornering skill. Many sports cars were relatively small (by American passenger-car standards) two-door convertibles, and a few were low-slung, two-door coupes. Organized racing for sports cars sprang up immediately. Since no oval track could bring out the qualities of sports-car agility, local organizers often marked out multi-cornered courses with rubber cones and hay bales on the abundant pavements of abandoned military airfields. Organized races through city streets were sometimes approved by local officials.
Soon enough, paved race tracks—with hilly, twisting layouts emulating courses in continental Europe for "Formula" and sports cars—began appearing in the US. And variations on sports-car racing also quickly took root: endurance races (of two, six, 12, and 24 hours), together with numerous classes (so that less-powerful MGs and Triumphs, for example, could race in different classes than, say, Jaguars, Ferraris, or Maserattis). And "autocrossing" was organized locally in towns all over the US—wherein one car at a time competed for the shortest elapsed time over short, twisting courses often marked off temporarily on large, open macadam parking lots.
Before long, America got its first sports car: the Chevrolet Corvette, introduced tentatively in 1953. By the late 1950s, a re-engineered Corvette took its place as a competitive sports car, both in the showrooms and on sport-car race tracks.
The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) organized sports car races in the US and also licensed amateur drivers, after an on-track skills test with a well-experienced driver. Regional championships were competed-for in many classes, including hand-built sports cars intended only for the track. Through about 1960, a top amateur competitor could file an entry and drive his production sports car to a sports car race, tape-up the headlights (to keep broken glass from flying too far in an incident), remove a few excess parts such as mufflers and bumpers, paint-on an assigned race number to the car temporarily, and go racing. By the early 1960s, such a cavalier approach became passé, and serious sports-car racers prepared their cars as fully as stock-car and sprint-car owners. The SCCA responded to the change by loosening the design rules for its "production" classes to include a variety of engine and other performance modifications - although the car still had to be "street legal," meaning it still had to comply, off the track, with passenger vehicle licensing requirements for use on public roads. The SCCA "modified" classes became more so, including exotic cars intended only for the most serious racing.
Europeans, meanwhile, developed sports car racing after World War II to a level of sophistication in cars and organization of races almost equal to that of Formula 1 "Grand Prix" racing. And in both types of racing, factory teams were by far the majority of participants.
overall: 12 cm x 19 cm x 23 cm; 4 3/4 in x 7 1/2 in x 9 1/16 in
Computers & Business Machines
In the early days of electronic computers, memory was not as efficient or inexpensive as it is today. To save memory space, programs stored as few digits as possible for dates. In COBOL, for instance, January 1, 1999, was stored as 010199. As Year 2000, or Y2K for short, approached, it became apparent that there might be serious problems because many large-scale systems were based on older programs. Simply, the problem with storing only two digits for the year is that a year written as “00” might be read by a computer as the year 1900 instead of the year 2000. If left unfixed, computer hardware, software, and communications worldwide could have malfunctioned. The impact of the “Millennium Bug” might have been catastrophic because the use of computers and networks has become integral to our lives: banking, communications, transportation, medicine, and even cooking is rarely done without some kind of computerized assistance.
To fix this potential problem, governments and businesses began operations in the 1990s to make sure all necessary computer systems had been checked or converted to new systems to minimize loss of services. The Guardian Life Insurance Company is an example of a large business that needed to fix their systems. The company's Y2K Project Team analyzed over 20 million lines of code and over 17 thousand computer programs and verified that all of their systems were in compliance and ready to go by December 31, 1999. To approach their goals, the Y2K Project Team distributed these baseball caps to internal departments as their systems were confirmed Y2K-compliant. This worked to foster healthy internal competition and cooperation at Guardian and helped the team complete its task. The embroidered letters on the front of each cap read “IMY2KC,” which stands for “I am Y2K Complaint.” The embroidered letters on the back of the cap read “RU,” which stands for “Are you?”