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About Me

In 1975, having graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont, I moved to Washington DC to work for the Smithsonian Institution. Its National Air and Space Museum was then the newest museum on the National Mall.

I was there on July 1, 1976, when a signal from a Viking Lander on the surface of Mars cut the ribbon, officially opening the NASM to great acclaim. President Gerald Ford aptly called it the nation’s bicentennial gift to itself.

The next decade was the finest and most intensive education in flight history that I could possibly have wished for. Every day at NASM— the world’s most popular museum—brought new research tasks that further broadened my ever-expanding knowledge of flight. Better still, I met countless famous aviators, astronauts, heads of state, television and movie stars, musicians, and other notables. Very exciting!

By the early 1980s, I had reached the rank of assistant curator and had books, articles, and exhibits to my credit. Much as I loved that life, though, I knew from the first day that I’d someday leave because writing is my life’s focus. That time came in the late summer of 1986 when I pulled the plug to become a freelance writer.

After a year, the Museum of Flight in Seattle learned I was available and hired me to be their curator. That translated Deborah, my wife and best friend, and me to the West Coast. We’ve been Seattleites ever since and both our children were born here. Although I returned to writing after two years at the Museum of Flight, I maintain close friendships there just as I do at NASM.

As for airplanes, I see them as technological sculptures bearing witness to human energy, intelligence, and creativity. People and their dreams are always the story, though, and aviation offers us a wonderful arena for learning more about ourselves.

You’ll find more about this in The Airplane: How Ideas Gave Us Wings. It’s literally the book I’ve studied a lifetime to write.

 

 




The Airplane by Jay Spenser

"Spenser has done
a superb job of describing the process by which brilliant and courageous people, exchanging ideas
and building on experience, have dramatically changed the world we live in."

Amazon Customer Review


 

 
Words on Wings