Once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards ... " Leonardo da Vinci wrote.
Post artists have had their eyes turned skyward since at least Dec. 25, 1909, when artist Sarah Stilwell-Weber's painting of a young boy with his Christmas toys depicted the first airplane ever on a Saturday Evening Post cover. In the following issue, the great illustrator J.C. Leyendecker set the tone for the first century of flight with his New Year's 1910 cover of a hesitant daredevil cherub piloting a Wright brothers-style flyer.
Airplanes swooped onto our cover again in 1917 with Henry J. Soulen's exciting depiction of a WWI aerial dogfight, and just a month later came Neysa McMein's portrait of a brave lady flyer.
Cover artist Norman Rockwell celebrated the great flying hero Charles Lindbergh in a July 23, 1927, cover painting entitled simply Pioneer. By 1938, Rockwell's cover portrait of a kindly country grandmother on a trans-oceanic flight said it all--the final frontier, the air, had been conquered.
We would be willing to bet that Charles De Soria, who took this cover photo for the April 6, 1940, issue, knew the exact flight path of the airplane before setting up the shot. The real art here was getting the plane and boy in just the right positions. (left) Just what is artist J.C. Leyendecker trying to show us? That flight is in its infancy, of course, but also that we'd better find something for pilots to wear.
If there had been a May 21 Saturday Evening Post issue in 1928, it would have been the perfect anniversary of Charles A. Lindbergh's momentous transatlantic flight. Edgar Franklin Wittmack's cover tribute to the Spirit of Aviation actually appeared on the May 12 issue of that year.
This World War I cover by Henry J. Soulen seems to perfectly illustrate Alfred, Lord Tennyson's famous line from Locksley Hall: "Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew/From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue."
On a material-gathering trip to Washington, D.C., …