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Barnstorming: everything started with it and my life was forever changed...

Updated: Aug 21, 2018

Five years ago I made a trip to London. I love this city so much (but who doesn't!!). Among the countless activities and visits one could make in London I enjoyed visiting design shops. Let’s say that I love vintage and everything that recalls the bygone days. I love distinctive and out-of-the-common things and I am attracted by all the objects that stimulate my imagination. That’s why the decoration of my house and in general all the spaces in which I live is for me something that goes beyond a discourse of pure aesthetics and functionality. I am always looking for objects impressing me for their being so unique, telling me past stories and by which I can recall distant past and places. In other words: things that make me dream!

So, during my stay in London I entered into this shop called Conran Shop, a contemporary furnishings store showcasing design classics, one-off vintage items and gifts. Among their vintage collection I found myself soon attracted by some items from this company named Authentic Models.

The item which captured my attention the most was this truly reproduction of the aircraft Flying Circus Jenny

First I was impressed by the attention to details, the quality of the material used to build it and the lightweight structure of that model. But when the shop assistant told me it was a truly replica of an airplane used by the entertainment industry in 1920s my curiosity pushed me to discover more about this model and of course the company manufacturing it!

When I got back home from London I found out that this beautiful handmade aircraft model is made of a painted silk fabric stretched across a lightweight wooden frame and that it is an exact reproduction of the Flying Jenny airplane used for the Barnstorming in the 1920s.  

Barnstorming was a form of entertainment in which stunt pilots used to make the craziest things in the air to attract an audience: dangerous spins, loops and the barrel roll, stall turns and wing overs while reckless aerialists performed crazy stunts like switching from a plane to another, wing walking, parachuting and even playing tennis!  Either individually or in groups, called flying circuses, they used to entertain crowded fields of people paying the tickets for a show or a plane ride. This soon became one of the most popular attraction in the United States during the Roaring Twenties!

After the Great War the American government found out to have an hangar full of unused  airplanes and did not know what to do with them. So, they decided to sell them off to civilians who usually were former aviators or just aircraft lovers. It was unbeknownst to the American government to have created a new "Age of Flight" where the Flying Circus barnstormers soon conquered every human who had never seen an airplane before, winning hearts and elevating minds to a new perspective on flying. The Flying Circus Jenny airplanes are part of the reason American's developed an obsession with flying.

"Flying, the new industry", 1910s

An advertising poster for the early flying exhibition team, the Moisant International Aviators

A reckless stunt prepares to leap without any safety gear!

Two wing walkers sit at table on the wing of Jenny airplane… ready to say “cheers!” at a high altitude!

The flying circuses were usually groups of people making their own stunt.

Some famous early flying circuses or troops were The Gates Flying Circus, the Flying Aces Air Circus (Jimmy and Jessie Woods), The 13 Black Cats, The Five Blackbirds (an all African-American team), Mabel Cody's Flying Circus, Bugs McGowen's Flying Circus, and a troop run by Douglas Davis.

The “Gates Flying Circus” were probably the most popular flying group which is known for having performed their show across every fields of the United States and having flown around 1 million passengers and perhaps the organization that made the most impression on the public.

However, it sometimes happens that beautiful things come to an end. The Barnstorming saw its decline in the late 1920s when the American government stated to put restrictions on how low in altitude certain tricks could be performed (making it harder for spectators to see what was happening), safety standards and specifications that were virtually impossible for barnstormers to meet. Furthermore, the government stopped selling the Jenny. This memorable age of flight changed the world of aviation forever.

The unbelievable and amazing story of these brave, daredevil and risk lovers men is a story that worth to be told and must be handed down from one generation to another. Those crazy men made people of their historical age dream and the fame and glory that they conquered throughout those years make people dream still nowadays and make me wonder of the past bliss, the positivity, the prosperity and the wish for venture that marked the Jazz Age.

Incredible details: Authentic Models Flying Circus hanged in my office

Captured by this amazing story from the bygone days I decided to discover more about Authentic Models, the company making this aircraft models. And I was surprised to find out they don’t just make scale model airplanes but also furniture, lamps, sailings and nautical stuff, balloons, propellers true replicas, architectural models, globes and much more. All that items are inspired by different ages: the Age of Exploration, the Safari era, the Orient Express, the Victorian Age, the 1920s and the 1930s. A vision of Eldorado to me, since I have a passion for vintage! 

However, the characteristic that struck me the most was finding out that every single product tells a story related to the historical period it makes reference. Thanks to this amazing discover I found the inspiration that led me here today. Telling you incredible stories from the past golden ages. The bliss from bygone days has just begun and I would be very pleased if I can share with you my passion and make this incredible journey together!


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