Want to see a century-old safari film made in Africa by pioneering aviators whose special plane has a connection to New Hampshire?
Would you like to hike to the crash site in the White Mountains where the fuselage of an old airliner remains near the top of a dark peak?
You can do all of this and more, thanks to a new series of humanities programs offered in 2022 by the NH Aviation Museum.
The programs will take place at the museum, which is located in the 1937 passenger terminal at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, as well as in venues across the state.
The series takes off on Thursday, January 27 with a program about Osa and Martin Johnson, an American husband-and-wife team who rose to world fame in the 1920s with their work on aviation and filmmaking in remote parts of Africa, of Asia and the Pacific Islands.
“Martin and Osa Johnson: Adventure’s First Couple” premieres Thursday, January 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Town Hall Theater, 40 Main St., Wilton, NH
The program will include a talk on the Johnsons by Jeff Rapsis, Executive Director of the Aviation Museum of NH. Also included will be a screening of ‘Simba: King of the Beasts’ (1928), a feature documentary filmed by Martin and Osa Johnson in Africa.
The film will be screened with live musical accompaniment.
Tickets at the door are $ 10 for adults; $ 5 for children under 12, people 65 and over, and serving military personnel. Members of the Aviation Museum are free. The program is not recommended for very young children.
Traveling the world in the early years of aviation, often flying a Sikorsky seaplane to reach far-flung places, the Johnsons were the first to use the motion picture camera to record wildlife. Their work brought audiences the very first images of lions, tigers, giraffes and other exotic creatures seen in their natural habitat.
The program will include a glimpse of the Kansas couple’s unexpected connection to New Hampshire aviation.
During their overseas adventures, the Johnsons flew a zebra-striped Sikorsky S-38 twin-engine seaplane nicknamed “Osa’s Ark,” and later a single-engine S-39 seaplane famous for being painted in the pattern. giraffe marks.
Only 21 Sikorsky S-39 seaplanes were produced in the early 1930s; none survived in a flyable state after WWII.
However, in the early 1960s, pilot Dick Jackson of Rochester, NH embarked on a 40-year odyssey to recreate a flight-ready Sikorsky S-39 from surviving pieces of five separate planes salvaged from locations as far away as Alaska, where many planes were used by bush pilots to reach distant places.
In an adventure as ambitious as that undertaken by the Johnson’s, Jackson and a dedicated team of volunteers worked for four decades, totaling 40,000 hours to rebuild a single functioning S-39, manufacturing parts and components as necessary.
In 2003, the fully restored aircraft first took off and remains airworthy today.
The world’s only flying Sikorsky C-39 amphibious, painted in the same giraffe motif in honor of the Johnson family, is now part of the “Fantasy of Flight” vintage aircraft collection in Polk City, Florida.
Only one other Sirkorsky C-39, although not in flight condition, is on display at the New England Aviation Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, not far from the Sikorsky factory where it was built in the early 1930s.
“Martin and Osa Johnson: The Adventure’s First Couple” is presented with assistance from the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum, located in Osa Johnson’s hometown of Chanute, Kansas.
The Humanities 2022 series of the Aviation Museum is partially funded by the car dealers Grappone and the Sidore Foundation.
The Humanities series aims to expand the nonprofit Aviation Museum’s efforts to promote aviation to the public, and in particular to young people.
“We have a lot of STEM related programs to get kids interested in aviation and aerospace, like our aircraft building partnership with Manchester (NH) School of Technology,” said Jeff Rapsis, Executive Director.
“With the Humanities series, we hope to inspire audiences – and young people – about the leak from other perspectives,” said Rapsis. “We seek to celebrate the sense of adventure that has been part of the human experience of flight since the Wright brothers, and with the pioneers of ballooning before that. “
Upcoming programs in 2022 include an overview of the experience of African Americans at Grenier Air Force Base (now Manchester-Boston Regional Airport) during World War II, when the armed forces were separated; a program showcasing women aviation pioneers in New Hampshire; and a trek through the north of the country to the summit of Mount Success, the site of a Northeast Airlines crash in 1954 that made headlines around the world.
The Aviation Museum of NH is a tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating New Hampshire’s role in aviation history and inspiring pioneers, innovators and aerospace professionals of the future.
The museum is located at 27 Navigator Road, Londonderry, NH. It is accessible via Exit 1 from Interstate 293 in Manchester and heading south on South Willow Street past the New Hampshire Mall entrance; then follow the brown signs “Aviation Museum”.
The Aviation Museum is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. The Aviation Museum follows all recommended Covid-19 public health protocols. Face coverings are mandatory for visitors inside the building.
For more information, visit www.aviationmuseumofnh.org or call (603) 669-4820. Follow the Aviation Museum on social media at www.facebook.com/nhahs.