In twelve seconds that changed the world in 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright achieved the first successful powered airplane flight and soon seized the public’s imagination with the new technology that gave birth to the Age of Aviation.
The homepage of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum says it best:
“The decade after the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903 witnessed a wide range of reactions to the new technology… The airplane had meaning for everyone—from popular enthusiasm for the pilots and their aerial exhibitions, to the commercial and military potential of aviation, to the broad cultural implications of flight, to the artistic expression it inspired.”
Why, even St. Nick would soon eschew his traditional sleigh with its eight flying reindeer and embrace the new powered flying machine as depicted on these early 20th century postcards. The mechanical powered flight by the two bicycle mechanics from Ohio inspired a public fascination with aviation, flight, and modern technologies which postcard artists of the era exploited to appeal to buyers.
Suddenly, postcard artists mixed the technological marvels of the day – dirigibles, hot-air balloons, and aeroplanes – with traditional holiday iconography and Santa’s transportation choice received an instant upgrade.
Come back next week to see more vintage Santa postcards with an aeronautical theme courtesy of collector, Harlan Radford, Jr.
– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor