The view from the seat of the pilot of the Enola Gay / Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Old friend and thorn in the side Gil Brassard in Baton Rouge alerted us to this wonderful marriage of modern technology and history from David Palermo Photography — an interactive, panoramic view of the cockpit of the Enola Gay, the B-29 from which the first atomic bomb used in war was dropped.

How can you use this in class, teachers?  Got a lesson plan that puts a student in the seat of the pilot?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Enola Gay / Smithsonian National Air and Space …, posted with vodpod

For technical reasons beyond my ken, one may not make this a full screen image. No problem. Go to David Palermo’s site, and see this as big as your computer monitor. I recommend viewing it there — it’s better, really.

Palermo has a portfolio of cockpits he’s shot at the Smithsonian, including the French Concorde, Gemini VII, a Bell Huey helicopter, Mercury Friendship VII, and a Lockheed Martin X-35 — with spherical panoramas available of those and more (look for the link that says “HD360°” and look at the drop-down menu).  He sells massive prints of the cockpits — something special for aviation and space buffs.

6 Responses to The view from the seat of the pilot of the Enola Gay / Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Sometimes the best history is the stuff that really hits you in the gut — the visceral feelings one gets when confronting the tools, places and people.

    Seems you got a series of photographs that really hit people in the gut, Mr. Palermo. Good work. Thanks!


  2. I agree. I found it creepy being inside the Enola Gay. In fact I had to climb into it through the bomb-bay doors. That was creepy! To know that the first atomic bomb sat exactly where I was climbing was a weird feeling. I did another 360 of where the bombardier sat. You can view it here:


  3. […] Part 1 of this raw, silent footage from Tinian during World War II shows the loading of the “Little Boy” atomic bomb aboard the B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay,” and early morning activity on Tinian on 6 August, 1945, prior to takeoff. Source: Naval History and Heritage Command, Photographic Section, UV-1. In addition you can check out this related post:… […]


  4. James Hanley says:

    Oh, yeah, I didn’t mean to imply that this shouldn’t exist or shouldn’t be used. It was just kind of surprising how merely the virtual experience of looking at the cockpit of the Enola Gay, just here on your site, gave me kind of a creepy feeling. And I’m not even a “everyone at the time should have known it was wrong” type person.

    But the very creepiness, that is, the visceral connection, probably does make it a good teaching tool.


  5. Ed Darrell says:

    You’re right; bad headline at least (which I’ve changed).

    Our students have little knowledge of atomic weapons and atomic politics. Generally we study Truman’s decision; I think a good path for additional study would be the review of the Manhattan Project from Einstein’s letter on, which I’ve done; and I’ve wondered how to incorporate the story of Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay.

    This panoramic feature provides a faithful-to-the-time portrait of Tibbets’ seat through the flight, something that helps students visualize, understand and store the information about the incident, to aid in their analysis of the wisdom of Truman’s decision, and the horrors of war.

    There is something in Tibbets being so certain he did the right thing, and in Truman’s decision based at least part on his having served in battle during World War I, and their understanding that they were working to prevent more, brutal on-the-ground combat.

    Bob Greene called Tibbets “the man who won the war.” Greene’s book, Duty: A father, his son, and the man who won the war, could be part of a good discussion of war, just war, and the policy decisions that go into it, from the view of the leader of a nation, and from the view of the soldier on the ground or in the air.

    Creepy? That’s a starting point to analyze the events, I think.


  6. James Hanley says:

    Perhaps oddly, I find this somewhat creepy.


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