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This Rare Footage In The 1940s Shows Cleveland Like You’ve Never Seen Before

From 1929 onwards, Cleveland was regular host to the National Air Races. New aircraft were showcased, and dangerous sky-high races were held. The Powder Puff race, featuring female pilots (including Amelia Earhart), was introduced at the 1929 Cleveland National Air Show. They flew from California to Cleveland. By the time this video was filmed, women pilots competed in races with men.

Over the years the National Air Races were held, some pilots died, as jostling for positions in a mid-air race was obviously a dangerous sport. The races were put on indefinite hiatus in 1949, after a plane crash killed the pilot and two others in Berea. It was started again in Nevada in the 1960s, but never returned to Cleveland.

This video comes from Periscope Film, and shows the races in 1946. It starts with spectacular birds-eye views of downtown, then shows the waiting crowds at Cleveland Municipal Airport (now Hopkins Airport). Over 50,000 people showed up to watch the air shows each of the 12 years Cleveland hosted it. The video introduces you to some key figures and spectators in the National Air Races. An early remote-controlled model plane shows off, and then the real pilots take to the air. A parachute display and some coordinated flight formations close out the video.

There’s commentary to take you all the way through, with a few witty jokes, and enough information to keep you informed.

So what do you think of this little piece of history? It’s been exactly 70 years since this footage was shot. It’s amazing to think how far Cleveland’s come, from manufacturing parts for early planes to an up-and-comer in the modern tech industry; from showing up in by the tens of thousands to marvel at the feats of flight to hopping in a plane ourselves to see Mom for Christmas. How do these shots of Cleveland and Clevelanders compare to 2016?

Giorgia Kerr
Giorgia is an anthropologist and freelance writer from Australia, currently living in Cleveland. Her main hobbies are traveling and sleeping in.