• December



Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame Spotlight: Paul E. Garber

Paul E. Garber

Paul E. Garber

Paul E. Garber
McLean, Virginia
Inducted 1990

Paul E. Garber’s name is synonymous with the history of powered and controlled flight. In July 1909, he saw Orville Wright fly at Fort Myer, VA. His own first solo flight occurred on Independence Day of 1919. His 70-year association with the Smithsonian Institution began in 1920. His innumerable contributions at the Smithsonian Institute include the acquisition and preservation of the “Spirit of St. Louis” and the Douglas World Cruiser “Chicago“. He rose to head curator and senior historian, and later senior historian of the National Air Museum (later the National Air and Space Museum) before his retirement in 1969. He is a retired Navy Commander of both World War I and World War II, and an Honorary Naval Aviator. The Smithsonian Institute dedicated the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in 1980 to continue the work of this longtime Virginia resident.

Paul E. Garber (1899-1992) (credit: National Air and Space Museum)
Paul Garber began working at the Smithsonian institution in 1920, building models and preparing exhibitions. For the next 72 years he dedicated himself to the preservation of the nation’s aeronautical heritage and to sharing his boundless enthusiasm for flight with Smithsonian visitors. He played a key role in the creation of the National Air Museum in 1946, and was indispensable in the effort to construct the present National Air and Space Museum building in Washington, DC, which opened in 1976. Most important, Garber, working on his own and with little support, almost single-handedly amassed the finest collection of historic aircraft in the world, including one of the Museum’s most prized possessions, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis.

The Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility is named in honor of Paul Edward Garber (1899-1992), who was instrumental in collecting more than half of the Smithsonian-owned aircraft.

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