National Air and Space Museum Archives

Pilots' Licenses Collection

Collection ID:
This collection contains materials in
, and
Physical Description:
0.33 Cubic feet
1 box
107 (Shared)
This collection contains pilot's licenses issued in the early 20th century. It includes licenses from various nations such as Canada, France, Italy, and the United States.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection consists of a variety of different types of pilots' licenses issued by civilian, government, and military organizations dating from 1911 to 1948. Licenses certified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) form most of the licenses issued by private organizations. Four founding clubs of FAI - Aero Club D'Italia, the Aero Club of America, the Aéro-Club de France, and the Royal Aero Club - are featured. The United States Navy, US Army Air Corps, and one item from the Canadian Air Force represent the military licenses in the collection. Licenses issued by the United State Department of Commerce form a large portion of licenses issued by governments.
Other forms of personal identification were discovered with many of the pilots' licenses in this collection. Examples of these items include a driver's license, a firearms license, aviation membership cards, and business cards.
Included in this collection are licenses belonging to Raymond Emmanuel Bollack, Laura Bromwell, John Milton Bryant, Frank T. Coffyn, Curtis La Q. Day, Richard Duncan, Lester D. Gardner, G. S. Gillespie, Paul R. Gruhler, Beckwith Havens, Frederick A. Hoover, George M. Keightley, Benjamin Scovill Kelsey, Alfred S. Koch, Lawrence Leon, Grover Loening, Cord Meyer, Zenos Ramsey Miller, Thomas DeWitt Milling, Charles L. Morris, Thea Rasche, Roland Rohlfs, D. deR. M. Scarrit, Walter J. Shaffer, Thomas E. Springer, Norman Sweetser, Alexander Blair Thaw II, Ralph H. Upson, Clifford L. Webster and E. A. Yeager. A blank license attributed to the Service de la Navigation Aérienne is also included.

This collection is arranged alphabetically by surname of the licensee.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Prior to 1926, pilots in the United States were not required to have any documentation or certification to operate an aircraft. To demonstrate ability and credibility, private organizations as well as military agencies issued their own licenses. These early licenses were available for different aircrafts across various disciplines and served to allow individuals to participate in aeronautic events endorsed by civil organizations.
A prominent international organization, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), supplied licenses to aviators around the world. Founded in 1905, FAI formed through the collaboration of aviation clubs from eight countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States.
Pilots' licenses became a requirement after the Air Commerce Act of 1926, which promoted the improvement and maintenance of safety standards in air commerce. With a variety of different examples of pilots' licenses, the collection provides insight into the types of documentation issued to military and civilian pilots during the first half of the twentieth century.

Isaac Middleton (Intern 2019); reviewed by Amara Pugens
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gifts and transfers from various sources and unknown, NASM.XXXX.0650.
Processing Information
Arranged, described, and encoded by Isaac Middleton (Intern 2019), 2019. Digital assets attached by Amara Pugens, 2022.

Digital Content
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Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests
Conditions Governing Access
No restrictions on access.
Preferred Citation
Pilots' Licenses Collection, NASM.XXXX.0650, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Air pilots Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women air pilots Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Identity cards Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Coffyn, Frank, 1878-1960 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Havens, Beckwith. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Keightley, George M., 1889-1967 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Upson, Ralph Hazlett, 1888-1968 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aero Club of America Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Aeronautic Association (U.S.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
National Air and Space Museum Archives
14390 Air & Space Museum Parkway
Chantilly, VA 20151