Aviation museums' "most wanted list" of cool aerospace artifacts lost to history

Aviation historians and museum curators like those at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum go gaga over any photos, correspondence, or curiosities related to Amelia Earhart. And of course her lost aircraft is at the top of many aviation museums' wish lists. But there are many more unusual aerospace artifacts that they'd love to find, catalog, and display to the public. Here are a few from Air & Space Magazine:

Music in the Clouds

"Blüthner, the Leipzig pianoforte factory, built an aluminum grand piano weighing only 162 kilograms [356 pounds] especially for the Zeppelin [Hindenburg], which, according to one reporter, delighted the passengers with 'a particularly large and full tone' despite its metal construction," says Simone Lipski of the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, Germany. "On the first trip of the Hindenburg to North America, the Dresden pianist Franz Wagner inaugurated the grand piano, playing works by Chopin, Liszt, Beethoven, and Brahms." The piano maker's staff say the instrument was removed from the Hindenburg in 1937 and placed on display in the factory, where it was later destroyed in an air raid. But the Zeppelin Museum has found evidence that the piano was last seen in 1938 in a shipyard crate. And there the trail goes cold[…]

Animating Space

"I'd love any of the spacecraft models used by Wernher von Braun in any of the 1955 Disneyland episodes, particularly the intricate and fanciful three-stage rocket in the episode Man in Space," says Ben Page of the EAA Aviation Museum. An estimated 40 million viewers saw the episode on TV and, later, in theaters. "In those models, I see a moment where the space program was really 'sold' to Americans, taking full advantage of the communication medium of the day."

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(image: "Wernher von Braun, above, right, with Walt Disney in 1954," NASA)